A long-running dispute between cellular operators Cell C and MTN over interconnect fees may finally be resolved by the Competition Tribunal.
The Competition Commission has deciced to submit its findings of price discrimination against MTN to the Tribunal for adjudication.
The case has been running since the original complaint was filed by Cell C in April 2005 and relates to the interconnect fees for community service telephones (CST), where there is a dispute as to the validity of Cell C's CST definition.
Cell C’s complaint alleged that MTN is abusing its dominant position in the market, and it is using its muscle to harm Cell C’s bottom-line by challenging its Community Service Telephones (CST) roll-out. This is being done by withholding both commercial and CST interconnection fees due to Cell C.
“As part of Cell C’s license obligations, amongst other things, we were required to install 52 000 CST lines in under-serviced areas," says Zeona Motshabi, Chief Corporate Officer at Cell C.
"These areas were defined broadly as those having less than 10% fixed line penetration as approved for in our license. We then took this definition to the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) which mapped these areas. The resultant maps are endorsed by ICASA and we roll-out our CST network in these regions in accordance with this mapped information."
MTN had disputed the validity of the roll-out being true CST installations.
Motshabi adds: “We believe that we performed everything in our power to ensure that our roll-out is in line with our license obligation."