/ 20 April 2010

SA on course to reduce cost of communications

South Africa was doing well to reduce the cost of communicating and the next step should see further curbs targeted in the retail market, the communications minister said on Tuesday.

Africa’s largest economy has aggressively moved to lower the cost of communication, with cellphone operators charging more per minute at peak times for their mobile termination, or interconnection, fee than countries like South Korea, Malaysia and India.

“South Africa is well on its way to reducing cost to communicate,” Communications Minister Siphiwe Nyanda told lawmakers during his budget vote speech.

In November, Nyanda reached agreement with cellphone operators Vodacom, MTN and Cell C to cut their interconnection fees from R1,25 to 89 cents during peak hours and 77 cents during off-peak times.

South Africa’s communications regulator last week proposed to cut termination rates for cellphone and fixed-line operators even more over the next three years, a move likely to affect revenue at major phone providers.

Nyanda on Tuesday thanked the cellphone operators for voluntarily introducing much cheaper packages to cater for the needs of the poorest during last year’s December festive season.

However, he said more needed to be done.

“The next phase of cost-cutting measures should involve the retail market, which supplies services directly to consumers,” Nyanda said. — Reuters