Hot on the heels of news that ICASA has released draft regulation proposing asymmetric mobile termination rates, the two major networks have had their say – and now Cell C is filing a complaint at the competition commission.
Alan Knott-Craig, CEO of Cell C, says, “The two dominant incumbents discount their effective on-net prices substantially while charging a premium for their customers to call off-net. This amounts to discriminatory pricing and is without doubt anti-competitive when adopted by dominant operators.”
Basically, Cell C thinks it is anti-competitive behaviour for Vodacom and MTN to charge far less for calls on their own networks than they charge other networks for calls. The reason being that Vodacom and MTN can make their on-net (Vodacom to Vodacom, or MTN to MTN) pricing so aggressive that it becomes difficult for smaller operators to acquire new customers.
Knott-Craig also points out that customers could be paying more for calls than they realise.
“Customers that call off-net are being penalised often without them realising it. With number portability, customers don’t always know if they are calling on- or off-net anymore, so they don’t actually know what rate they are paying,” he says.
There is historical precedent for Cell C’s claims, too.
The French Competition Authority imposed a €183-million fine on Orange France in 2012 for its discriminatory on-net pricing. Here in Africa, the Nigerian regulator called on MTN Nigeria to introduce flat rates, earlier this year. Cell C says it will be using this cases to support its complaint at the Competition Commission.