Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Botswana - Regulator says that the three mobile operators are overcharging customers

[botswana gazette] Public Telecommunication Operators’ customers of the three cellphone providers in Botswana, namely Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC), Mascom Wireless and Orange and Botswana have been paying exorbitant call charges, it has been revealed.

Speaking to The Gazette on the sidelines of a press conference, Botswana Telecommunication Authority (BTA) spokesperson Aaron Nyelesi said they have established that the phone call operators’ charges are way above their costs.

It has also emerged that the Public Telecommunications Operators charge the customers up to 75 thebe and this will be cut to 45 thebe, when the operators implement a new BTA Directive that directs them to reduce prices.

“Every five years we relook at the costs. What BTA is saying is that their costs of providing services and charges to customers should be reflective of carrying service and that is why BTA has directed that they should reduce call costs; we are trying to align them to costs,” he said. Nyelesi explained that the directive does not mean that mobile operators would make losses. “They should make justifiable profits. We are also aware that by reducing mobile operators’ revenue, we are also reducing BTA’s revenue because we get three percent from their revenue,” he said.

Nyelesi added that the whole intention was to aid telecommunication development and BTA was not asking them to charge below their costs.

Asked how the call charges, fared as compared to other operators in the SADC region, Nyelesi said they were relatively low.

Briefing the press last Friday BTA Chief Executive Officer, Thari Pheko said the study was done in close collaboration with the public telecommunication operators

He said BTA has identified and determined challenges among others that there are incentives for distorted pricing of call termination across networks.

“There are undue discriminatory offerings to different service providers; there is ineffective wholesale pricing in general and there indications of high consumer retail tariffs; and there is potential for abuse of market power in certain market segments,” said Pheko.

“In order to address the challenges within the different market segments, the directive shall explicitly focus on fixed termination rates, mobile termination rates,” said Pheko.

In 2010 BTA carried out a study and it was on the basis of the study that BTA directs new pricing developments in the telecommunications industry.

Phone customers pay overpriced call charges

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