MTN has hit back at DG Murray Trust’s bid to ‘force’ the mobile phone group to zero-rate the local educational websites of public benefit organisations (PBOs).
DG Murray Trust’s claims that its court bid follows three months of engagement with the three largest network operators (Vodacom, MTN and Telkom Mobile) urging them to zero-rate these sites as a matter of urgency to ensure that the poorest 50% of children have some access to educational resources during the lockdown and over the next few months.
The trust also claims that Telkom and Vodacom have zero-rated PBOs websites but MTN is refusing to do so. For more read: MTN Faces Legal Challenge Over Zero-Rating PBOs Websites
Subsequently, the trust has launched a court application to compel MTN to zero-rate the local educational websites of PBOs.
The trust is represented by Dunster Attorneys Inc, which has applied to the Western Cape High Court for the case to be heard on 3 August 2020.
In a statement issued to TechFinancials on Friday, Telkom said it had noted the Notice of Motion received from the DG Murray Trust.
“MTN intends to oppose the application,” the company said.
“MTN, along with the other operators, is working with the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Communication and Digital Technologies to zero-rate the URLs that are approved through the Project Management Office (PMO) that has been formed by these two national departments,” said Jacqui O’Sullivan, MTN SA’s Executive for Corporate Affairs.
“The PMO first prioritised Universities and TVETs and has now directed the operators to prioritise schools.”
She further added that MTN has already zero-rated more than 450 of the full PMO list.
“Of the 40 Public Benefit Organisations demanded by the DG Murray Trust eight have already been zero-rated and MTN continues to work through the list, ensuring that in time the list from the DG Murray Trust will be attended to.”
O’Sullivan said MTN places a premium on the safety, security and sustainability of its network for all its users and has chosen not to work with an aggregator service such as that proposed by the DG Murray Trust.
“Our people are working hard to complete the complex coding, vetting and security checking that is required for each URL and any claims to the contrary are vexatious and being made in extraordinarily bad faith.”