Financial model sets new mobile termination rates

Project name:
Expert economic advice and financial cost modelling for the development of new termination rates

Service:
Regulatory economics and accounting

Sector:
Communications and Media

Client:
ICASA

Date:
2014 – 2015

Country:
South Africa


The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) issued new termination-rate regulations during the first half of 2014, which were challenged in the High Court by some of South Africa’s mobile network operators (MNOs), particularly MTN and Vodacom (Challenge to ICASA by MTN and Vodacom). After the court ruled that ICASA had to develop new termination-rate regulations later that year, Genesis was asked to assist in this regulatory process.

‘Termination rates’ are the prices telecommunications operators pay each other to terminate calls originating on each other’s networks (for example, when an MTN customer calls a Vodacom customer, MTN pays a termination fee to Vodacom). For a variety of pro-competitive reasons, regulators around the world set these rates equal to the costs operators incur to provide termination services to each other.

Financial models built by Genesis on behalf of ICASA uncovered the termination costs of South Africa’s fixed and mobile telecommunications operators. This enabled ICASA to introduce truly cost-oriented termination-rate regulation in South Africa for the first time. To maximise their pro-competitive potential, the regulations progressively reduce termination rates over time, to encourage future termination cost reductions. The regulations also recognise that smaller MNOs have higher termination costs and accommodate this through asymmetric rates, making more manageable the adjustments required of smaller MNOs.

Genesis’s independent expertise improved decision-making in two different respects. It first helped the High Court to understand that, while ICASA’s initial 2014 regulations would not harm any operator, scope existed to develop new regulations that would deliver better competition and consumer outcomes. It then helped ICASA to realise this objective, resulting in a best-practice regulatory outcome that has sparked greater price competition between South Africa’s telecommunications operators, particularly between the MNOs.

Genesis Analytics was a critical component of a regulatory process that lowered the costs of communication in South Africa, an outcome that benefits every South African consumer.

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