The Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) supports the court action initiated by one of its members, MWeb, against Telkom relating to the irregular charging of a “transit fee” for the “transiting” of calls between its fixed and mobile networks.

“We believe the law on the matter to be clear: Telkom’s fixed and mobile networks, although marketed under different brands, are operated under the same pair of service licences. In charging this so-called “transit fee” Telkom is effectively arguing that it is interconnecting with itself. That is legally illogical,” says ISPA co-chair Marc Furman.

ISPA confirms that – after initially trying to address the matter directly with Telkom – it had written to ICASA in July 2012. ISPA’s correspondence to the regulator also noted that Telkom allowed direct interconnection to its mobile network, but that an entirely separate interconnect infrastructure was required, which was both costly and inefficient.

In the absence of a substantive response MWeb elected to pursue the issue formally and with the support of a number of ISPA members.

“It appears that Telkom has taken a decision to have separate networks operating under a single licence. While this may lead to internal costs such costs are a result of their strategic decision and cannot be passed on to third party interconnect partners, particularly where to do so means termination to Telkom Mobile is above the maximum rate set out in the Call Termination Regulations 2010,” says Furman.