Carrim takes aim at high SA call costs

Cuts in recent years to wholesale mobile termination rates – the fees operators charge each other to carry calls between their networks – haven’t gone far enough, communications minister Yunus Carrim said on Friday.

"We’ve acknowledged that the costs have come down, but this glide path that [telecommunications regulator] Icasa has had over the last three years doesn’t go far enough."

Carrim made the comments in a Mail & Guardian Google Hangout.

Watch: M&G Hangout: What would you ask SA's new communications minister?

Icasa has reduced mobile termination rates from R1.25 per minute in peak times four years ago to 40c per minute in peak and off-peak periods now.


"Within the next two months, we are going to offer Icasa a policy direction on pricing and transparency," Carrim said. "We have also met with all but one of the cellphone service providers [and] have now agreed with the parties that we’ve met that before the end of September, we will have a workshop with them on pricing."

Independence
Carrim said the government is not going to approach the issue of pricing "in a way that undermines the independence of the Icasa process". Icasa has its own programme on the cost to communicate in South Africa.

"That continues, but we as a ministry and department need to understand more why it is that the mobile operators say we’re not being fair to them. This is planned for the end of September," the minister said.

"Between now and elections – which are some eight months away – at most what we can do is set a firmer foundation for a further review by Icasa of the need to bring down costs. We are utterly clear, the costs are too high."

Carrim said government realises it needs to balance the needs of consumers and operators. "We will take account, primarily, of the needs and interests of consumers, but we have to be aware of the concerns of the operators, too. We don’t want them to withdraw from South Africa. We’ll find the right balance; I think we can do it."

Consumer's role
Carrim warned that consumers aren’t suddenly going to enjoy lower prices, "but that’s where we are going".

However, he said consumers have an active role to play in pressuring operators to bring prices down.

"Consumers should also put pressure," he said. "Civil society organisations must get out onto the streets. It’s not as if government can do this on our own. It’s all of us. You can’t fold your arms, sit back and say government must deliver on this."

The minister said that although government must be held to account for its "words and policies", consumers ought to engage with operators directly. "That will put them under pressure, too."  – techcentral.co.za

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Craig Wilson
Craig Wilson works from Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Producer, Writer. @cbsnews @nbcnews @Columbia Grad. Canadian, Albertan, Hatter. Opinions always mine. Craig Wilson has over 572 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

MultiChoice and SABC in cahoots over control mechanism

Controversy over the set-top box, which has delayed the government’s rollout of digital television for 16 years, rages on at the Zondo commission

Parly to probe Shivambu over alleged undisclosed VBS payments

A committee will look into allegations the EFF chief whip received payments from VBS which he failed to declare in Parliament

Experts queasy over SOE bank Bill

The treasury’s proposed changes paving the way for SOE banks come with strict conditions, but analysts point to already troubled institutions

Clipped Hawks falter over Steinhoff

The policing unit still needs hard evidence but says that the investigation is ‘receiving attention’

Parliament committee tells Hawks to move on Steinhoff

Steinhoff's former CEO Markus Jooste testified to Parliament that he did not know about any 'accounting irregularities' at the furniture retail giant

Jooste: I did not know about accounting irregularities

​Former Steinhoff CEO Markus Jooste has testified that the blame for the company’s share price collapse lay with a disgruntled former partner
Advertising

Shongweni stink: EnviroServ bosses back in court

Managers charged over landfill emissions want charges set aside

Jailed journalist a symbol of a disillusioned Zimbabwe

Hopewell Chin’ono backed President Emmerson Mnangagwa when he succeeded Robert Mugabe. Now he’s in jail

Covid-19 a ‘catalyst for closing the pay gap’

Executive directors earn 66 times the national minimum wage and are overwhelmingly white, a report by assurance, advisory and tax services company PwC has found
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday