De Lille calls for probe into cellphone call costs

Cellphone call costs in South Africa are among the highest in the world and need investigating, Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille said on Wednesday.

In a statement, De Lille said she had lodged a complaint with the Competition Commission to investigate whether local cellphone service providers were “acting anti-competitively or are guilty of any prohibited practices”.

The “exorbitant costs” of cellphone calls were worrying, and affecting both business and the poor, she said.

“I believe that South Africans have long suffered poor competition and exorbitant telecommunications costs unnecessarily, and that it is vitally important that this be investigated by the Competition Commission urgently.”

In her complaint to the commission, a copy of which was attached to the statement, De Lille says South Africa’s cellphone operators were charging about 1 000% more than India’s cellphone operators.

Local interconnection rates had increased 500% over the 12-year period ending in 2007, and 515% between 1998 and 2001.

“South Africa’s interconnection rates are among the highest on the African continent.”

Among other things, the complaint calls on the commission to investigate “possible collusion between the dominant operators, particularly with regards to interconnection fees”.—Sapa


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