18 January 2013

Tanzania: TCRA Seeks Lower Phone Costs

THE Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has proposed a decrease in telephone interconnection charges to an average 34.92/- from 112/- that telecommunications networks currently use.

TCRA wants the new rates to be applied from March 1 this year.However, telecom operators want to charge 84/- which is equivalent to 25 per cent reduction arguing that the 69 per cent decrease proposed by TCRA for the first year on interconnection cost model was too high.

"TCRA should have considered the operation costs incurred by telecommunications companies while reviewing the interconnection charges," Airtel Legal Officer Clara Mramba, told journalists after a telecommunications network stakeholders' meeting in Dar es Salaam .TCRA Director (Zonal Coordination), Mr Victor Nkya, pointed out that the proposal was a result of a study conducted by an independent consultant, the UK-based Price water house Coopers and that the consultant recommended for the proposed decrease which will eventually reach 26.96/- in 2017.

"Experience shows that most telecommunication network operators are always reluctant to reduce service costs," he stated.Acting Assistant Director of Telecommunications at the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology, Mr Samson John, said the interconnection cost model was aimed at reducing a burden to consumer in terms of unnecessary cost.

Vodacom Legal Officer Walarick Nitu, said the proposed drop did not consider the devaluation of the currency suggesting the charges to be reduced to at least 75/- in the first year and to 58/- in the second year before it was decreased further to 26/- in 2017. Mr Allen Alexander, who is an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) expert, advised the government to encourage cellular network companies to get connected to the National ICT Backbone in order to minimize operation cost.

"Cellular network companies should be connected to the National ICT Backbone in order to avoid the costs of running the transmitters," he said.The telecommunications stakeholders meeting dubbed public inquiry drew participants from the Consumer Consultative Council, the Fair Competition Commission, the Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology and the cellular network companies.

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