Unlike its counterpart in Nigeria, telecoms regulatory authority in South Africa is considering imposing a new plan to lower mobile call termination rates when the current three-year regulation period ends on September 30.
Mr. Rubben Mohlaloga, an Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) Councilor and Acting Chairman made the plan known to reporters recently in parliament in Cape Town.
“As to whether we will determine a new glide path or will then regulate certain aspects of the voice market, it’s a decision that we’ll make and that will be in effect from Oct. 1”, Mohlaloga said.
ICASA in 2014 implemented a three-year “glide path”, the timetable for bringing down rates gradually for telecoms companies in South Africa, including Vodacom and MTN.
In Nigeria, telecom operators have been accused of brazenly ripping off subscribers due to poor quality of services. Some subscribers have complained that many times when they load their phone, the call credit goes away without subscribing to the purported tariff plan drop calls; hidden charges; undelivered text messages that are billed countless times and internet -wireless plan.
A subscriber, Maxwell Kalu lamented, “You do not have to be a subscriber to know how poor they are with their services. I only use my phone to call and send text messages, but my mobile network provider has been charging me every week since last year for service(s) I did not apply for or use. If the phone of every person you try to reach is not switched off, then all the people you are calling are busy on their phones”.
Anike Ige, another subscriber of one of the leading telco brands said, “it is very frustrating when I am trying to make very important phone calls and I am told I have no credit to make a call when my balance says otherwise”
Yet another aggrieved subscriber, Tony Pero, complained that sometimes when he loads his phone, his call credit goes away without subscribing to the purported tariff plan. He alleged that their tariff packages fraudulent. “I am daily ripped off” he lamented.
An ICT expert, who spoke to MARKETING EDGE on condition of anonymity, said local and foreign telecommunications companies operating in the country take comfort in having millions of customers locked into unfriendly plans.
He urged the supervising ministry and the Nigerian Communications Commission, both of who he accused of doing nothing over these, to wake up from their slumber.
Another telecoms sector watcher, Sylvanus Uche alleged complicity of the regulatory bodies.
Uche said government’s argument in defence of high data charges in Nigeria cannot be justified, insisting that since telecom brands in Nigeria have migrated from 3G networks, having rolled out 4G (LTE) networks due to the country’s high population density.
He maintained that globally, technology costs have continued to fall. Backhaul, core and international bandwidth costs have continued to force prices to drop, whereas in Nigeria costs keep rising.
In view of what the South African regulators have done, market analysts have urged the NCC to take a cue, to rescue millions of telecom subscribers and ensure that the telco brands serve public interest, rather than allowing them to continue ripping off Nigerians.