Two telcos drag NCA before industry tribunal

Business News of Monday, 16 March 2015

Source: Graphic Online

Paarock Vanpercy NCA

Two telecom companies, Vodafone and tiGO, have dragged the National Communications Authority (NCA) to the Electronic Communications Tribunal.

The two are seeking to stop the industry regulator from implementing a new tariff regime that will enjoin all telcos to charge not less than 4Ghp per minute on-net.

On-net calls are calls that are made from customers of a particular network to the same network, example from network V to V or A to A or T to T or M to M.

The action of the two is premised on the fact that the new move by the NCA will not be in the interest of the consumer and has to be reversed.

Sources within the NCA confirmed the move by the two telcos to the Daily Graphic at the weekend but declined further comments except to say that they were awaiting the verdict of the special tribunal.

The heightened competition within the industry has forced players in the sector to capitalise on every loose regulation to outdo one another.

The telcos are also using all means to resist attempts by the industry regulator to implement policies and regulations intended to ensure a level playing field.

Sources within the industry have told the paper that the smaller telecom companies, led by Airtel Ghana, are now seeking the regulator’s intervention to halt what they describe as an abuse of the present system by the bigger telcos as far as on-net charges are concerned.

The protest is said to have forced the NCA to act to protect the smaller players but that move has been met with resistance by the second and third largest operators of market share.

The source said, MTN, which is the dominant player and seem to be the biggest beneficiary of the present on-net tariff regime, is neutral about the developments.

Meanwhile, earlier in the week, the Finance Director of Vodafone Ghana, Mr Kenneth Gomado, insisted the NCA had no real basis for attempting to regulate on-net tariffs.

Speaking at a forum to discuss the proposal and its implication for consumers, he noted that Section 25 sub sections of the Electronic Communications Act, Act 775 clearly stated that prices in the telecoms industry should be determined by market forces and not by regulation.

He maintained that the law only gave the NCA the opportunity to intervene where there is proven evidence of a dominant player using anti-trust means and predatory pricing to muscle out smaller players.

The tribunal is yet to set a new date for the hearing of the case brought before it.

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