Cell C Workers to Hand Memorandum to Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams

The Information Communications and Technology Union (ICTU), which is representing Cell C workers says on Monday it will hand a memorandum detailing disputes it has with...

Latest Posts

U.S.Justice Department Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

The U.S. Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit Tuesday against Google, alleging the search giant is engaging in anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the...

Introducing The “Robo-Lawyer” Into South African Legal Firms

The world’s first “robot lawyer” has gone from helping people dispute their parking tickets, to assisting lawyers with over a hundred different areas of...

Making Sure Your Home Buying Story Is a Love Story and not a Horror Story

It was a dark and stormy summer night. As they curled up on the couch, the couple swooned over the dream home they found...

Using Tech To Bolster Human Connections

by Margaret Nienaber In a strange new world characterised by physical distance, we are rediscovering the value of real human connections – between colleagues, clients,...

A victory for SA’s mobile users: Cell C CEO

Consumers are the big winners in the High Court’s judgment against Vodacom’s acquisition of Neotel licenses. By Jose Dos Santos,Cell C CEO


It is hard to paint a rosy picture of telecommunications in South Africa. The environment is dominated by two players and policed by a regulator that does not always meet its mandate. In the end all that grief is passed onto South African mobile and internet users, who carry the brunt of some of the highest telecommunications costs in the world.

The only true solution to this impasse is an open and competitive market, made possible by a level playing field. This is why several industry players chose to oppose the planned merger between Vodacom and Neotel. In 2014 Vodacom, South Africa’s largest mobile operator, announced plans to buy Neotel, the country’s second-largest fixed-line operator.

Jose Dos Santos, Cell C's CEO
Jose Dos Santos, Cell C’s CEO

If Vodacom were to acquire Neotel’s vast fibre networks as well as its mobile spectrum, it would render the company’s iron grip on the market into an unassailable monopoly able to dictate the price consumers pay to connect.

Spectrum is a key concern: defined as the radio frequencies used to transmit (among other things) mobile signals, spectrum is essential for delivering faster internet to a growing user base. Already this is a pinching nerve for mobile operators, as spectrum is not only scarce but licenses for it are very difficult to acquire.

Vodacom’s takeover of Neotel would have delivered substantial amounts of this valuable commodity to the former, translating into an incredible and unfair advantage that could only hurt the market and ultimately consumers. Even the Competition Commission noted this, advising a number of conditions that included Vodacom be barred from using Neotel’s spectrum for more than two years.

Yet even though Vodacom decided to modify its deal and exclude spectrum licenses, the High Court’s decision to set aside approval of the merger is a clear victory for South Africa’s broadband market and the consumers it serves. But perhaps even more key is the finding that the industry regulator ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of SA) did not act appropriately. Its behaviour, incredibly, included private meetings with Vodacom.

The High Court Judge said that “[f]or an administrator to attend a private meeting with one of the parties under these circumstances is, in my view, not only improper, but also unlawful.”

Given its past actions, which included fighting cuts to already-expensive mobile termination rates, there is little doubt that Vodacom would have used its acquired girth to continue forcing the market into inadvertently punishing consumers.

Likewise, the High Court has laid bare how ICASA failed to meet one of its most basic requirements of its existence: The creation of competition in the telecommunications industry.  By not considering the potential anti-competitive effects of the proposed merger – facts they had at hand – ICASA failed its statutory obligation to promote competition that brings about affordable prices for consumers.

But while this battle is won, the war continues. Even though the ruling puts a stop to the spectrum takeover, any merger between Vodacom and Neotel should be opposed. It would make it even harder for newcomers to compete in and grow South Africa’s internet market. As the need to connect more South Africans to the Internet and the demand for affordable broadband services continue to grow, every measure should be taken to ensure a responsible and fair market – one that ultimately provides better services for less to all South Africans.

This is not simply a matter of market share, but an issue that concerns all of us. Cell C welcomes the High Court’s judgment and commits itself to continue the fight for a South African internet we can all participate in.

Email TechFinancials.co.za at editor@techfinancials.co.za

Latest Posts

U.S.Justice Department Files Antitrust Lawsuit Against Google

The U.S. Justice Department filed an antitrust lawsuit Tuesday against Google, alleging the search giant is engaging in anticompetitive and exclusionary practices in the...

Introducing The “Robo-Lawyer” Into South African Legal Firms

The world’s first “robot lawyer” has gone from helping people dispute their parking tickets, to assisting lawyers with over a hundred different areas of...

Making Sure Your Home Buying Story Is a Love Story and not a Horror Story

It was a dark and stormy summer night. As they curled up on the couch, the couple swooned over the dream home they found...

Using Tech To Bolster Human Connections

by Margaret Nienaber In a strange new world characterised by physical distance, we are rediscovering the value of real human connections – between colleagues, clients,...

Don't Miss

Liquid Intelligent Technologies Appoints Deon Geyser as New CEO for its SA Operations

Liquid Telecom South Africa announced today that Deon Geyser has been appointed as its new CEO. His appointment is effective from January 2021. Geyser will...

Shoprite Introduces Xtra Savings Rewards Programme

The Shoprite Group is launching a rewards programme for its Shopite branded stores on Monday 12 October 2020. The new Shoprite Xtra Savings card...

MTN Again Named SA’s Best Mobile Network

MyBroadband Insights has released the Q3 2020 Mobile Network Quality Report, which shows that MTN has the best mobile network in South Africa. The report...

Cell C Workers to Hand Memorandum to Minister Ndabeni-Abrahams

The Information Communications and Technology Union (ICTU), which is representing Cell C workers says on Monday it will hand a memorandum detailing disputes it has with...

Vodacom Lesotho’s License Safe After Court Victory

Vodacom can keep its operating license in Lesotho after the mobile phone company won a court challenge on Saturday against Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA)...

Stay in touch

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.

%d bloggers like this: