Cell C complain to Competition Commission about MTN and Vodacom's call rates

by , 09 October 2013

Earlier today, it emerged that Cell C had lodged a complaint with the Competition Commission over their call rates. Cell C claims that the higher fees MTN and Vodacom charge for calling out with their respective networks directly impacts smaller operators. The news comes just days after the communications regulator said it would slash fees that mobile operators charge for using their networks. Let's take a closer look at what's going on…

The Competition Commission confirmed earlier today that “it received the anti-trust complaint by Cell C,” reports Fin24. The complaint is “against MTN and Vodacom”. The commission received the complaint yesterday.

The anti-trust complaint “related to the pricing” of MTN and Vodacom, adds Fin24. It’s how they charge “their own customers to call people on other networks”.

Cell C claim the higher charges for phoning another network are “discriminatory”

Cell C, the third largest mobile operator in SA, said its larger rivals used “discriminatory pricing,” says IOL. MTN and Vodacom “offer discounts when customers” call someone on the same network. But, if they phone another network, customers must pay “a premium”.

The CEO of Cell C, Alan Knott-Craig says that this practice is “without a doubt anticompetitive when adopted by dominant operators,” reports BDLive. MTN and Vodacom have not commented on the lodged complaint so far.

Mr Knott-Craig says that by charging more to call another network, it has “a dramatic and direct impact on smaller operators’ ability to acquire new customers,” says the SABC.

The deputy commissioner for the Competition Commission, Trudi Makhaya, says that they will investigate the complaint, says Fin24. From that it will decide whether the practice breaches the competition act and take the necessary action.

The probe will take “between a week and three months to complete,” adds Fin24.

This follows Monday’s announcement by the regulator, Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) that it planned to slash fees charged between network operators by 75%. MTN and Vodacom’s share prices fell on the news.

So we will have to wait and see what the Competition Commission decides.

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