A perfect storm hits cellphone companies; now every tariff is under fire

By Branko Brkic 19 October 2009

We thought Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri was bad, but various government departments seem determined to put cellphone operators out of business entirely. Reports on the weekend quote Mamodupi Mohlala, director general of the department of communication, saying it wants to force down the prices of SMSs, international calls and data access before the end of May next year. (The operators engage in some mid-level price gouging on SMSs, but rates on the other two are pretty fair.) That is on top of the threat to force an operator-to-operator interconnect fee of 60 cents by November. We also have confirmation that the Competition Commission has issued subpoenas in the long-running investigation into possible price fixing between, especially, MTN and Vodacom. And now Vodacom is reporting a significant slowdown in the growth of its subscriber base, which it blames on interception regulations that require subscribers’ identity documents and proof of residence before they are connected to the network. Read more: Business Report, Fin24, TechCentral