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Cheaper overseas calls imminent for South Aficans

JOHANNESBURG – THE Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) has welcomed moves by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to conduct a cost modelling exercise on voice call termination rates.

The regulator also aims to introduce curbs on charges from local voice providers for terminating calls from outside of South Africa.

The result is likely to be cheaper overseas calls and much-reduced phone fraud, noted ISPA, the association representing over 200 ISP members, many of which provide voice services.

Call termination rates are the fees telecoms networks across the world levy on each other to ensure calls originally placed on another network can reach – or terminate – on their network.

Under ICASA regulation call termination charges for local calls have been substantially reduced since 2014, but there is still work to be done.

In addition, call termination rates for international calls are currently unregulated, leading to a massive differential between what can be charged for terminating calls locally and what can be charged for a call received from outside of the country.

ISPA noted such a gap gives rise to fraudulent activities where people attempt to present international calls as local calls.

ISPA members have bemoaned major challenges in terms of billing disputes and quality of service issues, among others.

ICASA recently published the findings of its review of SA’s Call Termination Regulations of 2014.

ICASA has pledged a detailed investigation into rates for terminating local calls, which will require licensees to use the principle of reciprocity to negotiate down international termination rates.

ICASA Councillor, Dr Charley Lewis, said the international termination rates charged by local licensees might not be less than the domestic regulated termination rate or higher than the international termination rate offered by their counterparts.

“(This means) that the difference between domestic termination rates and international termination rates must be fair and reasonable.”

The next step is for ICASA to publish a notice of intention to initiate the next phase of the review.

This includes a public consultation process to determine the real cost of call termination services and to amend the existing regulatory framework.

– CAJ News

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