Mbeki urges cheaper phone tariffs

Mbeki urges cheaper phone tariffs

JOHANNESBURG – South Africa must find ways to cut the cost of communications and catch up with emerging market peers like India, President Thabo Mbeki said late on Sunday.

Mbeki was quoted on SABC radio as saying it was worrying that a fixed-line phone call in India cost less than in South Africa but said a planned second national operator, which has been delayed due to shareholder wrangling, would help cut prices. “I think that is the kind of thing we need to look at here.How do we catch up for instance with a country like India?” he said after a meeting of the presidential international advisory council on information society and development.SABC said the long-delayed second national fixed-line operator would get its licence within a month and be up and running almost immediately, ending state-controlled Telkom’s monopoly.Mbeki said regulation should also be considered as a possible way of bringing down prices, which cuts the cost of doing business and makes communications more accessible for the poor.Communications regulator ICASA has imposed tough price caps on Telkom and is considering doing the same for mobile operators Vodacom, MTN and Cell C.It is also investigating the high cost of high-speed Internet access in South Africa.The government has been chipping away at Telkom’s monopoly with new laws that let value-added network operators offer cheaper calls over the Internet but has been accused of dragging its feet over the launch of a second national operator.-Nampa-Reuters”I think that is the kind of thing we need to look at here.How do we catch up for instance with a country like India?” he said after a meeting of the presidential international advisory council on information society and development.SABC said the long-delayed second national fixed-line operator would get its licence within a month and be up and running almost immediately, ending state-controlled Telkom’s monopoly.Mbeki said regulation should also be considered as a possible way of bringing down prices, which cuts the cost of doing business and makes communications more accessible for the poor.Communications regulator ICASA has imposed tough price caps on Telkom and is considering doing the same for mobile operators Vodacom, MTN and Cell C.It is also investigating the high cost of high-speed Internet access in South Africa.The government has been chipping away at Telkom’s monopoly with new laws that let value-added network operators offer cheaper calls over the Internet but has been accused of dragging its feet over the launch of a second national operator.-Nampa-Reuters

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