“We postponed the implementation date largely due to the MTN court case, because we’re expected to respond by 18 February, to file our opposing affidavit. We have 31 respondents, and ICASA is one of them,” Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) councillor Nomvuyiso Batyi told CNBC Africa.
“There are almost 400 pages that we have to respond to. We want the court to decide the matter on a less urgent basis to afford all parties equal opportunity to respond to the affidavits by MTN.”
ICASA had announced plans to cut mobile termination rates by up to 50 per cent, but its plans have now been put on hold until May following [DATA MTN:MTN's] plans to oppose the cuts. ICASA is responsible for the regulation of broadcasting, postal and telecommunications services in South Africa.
“We’d rather have a short-term delay than a long-term delay. Say the matter is heard next week, 25 February, and we’re not thoroughly prepared for the case, and it’s heard in favour of the other party, there might be a protracted legal battle that can last up to two years,”Batyi explained.
“A delay of a month or two is better than a delay of two years, that’s how we’re looking it. It’s more of a strategy on our part as to how you balance the two.”
Vodacom, despite also opposing the mobile terminations rate proposal, have not filed a case against ICASA. Both mobile network operators are however against the rate cuts, and reportedly explaining that one of the reasons to their opposition is due to their heavy investment in the infrastructural development of South Africa’s telecommunication’s industry.
“Vodacom is also a respondent, and they are entitled to respond. We take each and every court case on its merit, and if [DATA VOD:Vodacom] does decides to join, we will make a decision at that point as to what is the appropriate action to take,” said Batyi.
“The role of the regulator is to regulate in the public interest, and when we’re doing our costs, obviously they’re going to be different from a company whose role is solely driven by profits and dividends. We could never be in a position of agreeing as to what the appropriate rate is.”