UPDATE 1-S.Africa telecoms regulator says may reconsider mobile rate cut proposal

Mon Mar 24, 2014 5:14am EDT

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CAPE TOWN, March 24 (Reuters) - South Africa's telecoms regulator said on Monday it may reconsider planned cuts for 2015 and 2016 in the amount mobile operators charge each other to use their networks.

"In this case, we may review 2015 and 2016 mainly in trying to avert a very lengthy legal challenge. We will be re-consulting for those years," Paseka Maleka, a spokesman for the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, said.

Mobile operators MTN and Vodacom have asked a Johannesburg court to halt plans by ICASA to halve the fees operators charge competitors to carry calls on their networks.

In February ICASA announced it would halve the rate a company can charge rivals for using its mobile network to 20 South African cents per minute per call from March 1.

It also proposed a further reduction to 15 cents by 2015 before settling at 10 cents by March 2016.

ICASA subsequently changed the starting date to April 1, mainly due to the court challenge by mobile operators who fear revenues streams will be curtailed.

Vodacom estimated revenue loss at 1 billion rand ($92.01 million) in the next financial year, while its larger rival MTN Group is expected to fare better given its diverse geographic base and customer profile. ($1 = 10.8683 South African Rand) (Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by David Dolan)

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