Seychelles: New Regulation Would See Seychellois Mobile Users Charged to the Second, Saving Money

Regulations to ensure that mobile users in Seychelles are charged for the actual duration of a call is being drafted, said a top government official.

"Currently, operators are charging mobile users calls per minute even if a call lasts a few seconds. A prepaid call is almost SCR4 on average per minute though there are variations depending on the package and if it is during peak or non-peak hour," said Benjamin Choppy, the principal secretary of the Department of Information and Communication Technology.

He explained that though his office has not registered a large number of complaints from users, the government wanted a regulation that puts Seychelles in line with other international jurisdictions.

"According to the best international practices, clients should be paying for their actual usage. In the proposition for the regulation, service providers are obliged to charge per second, so if you are making a 30-second call, you pay for the actual 30 seconds of the call and not a full one minute," said Choppy.

The per second billing regulation will be part of the broadcasting and telecommunications act.

At the moment, the department is working with the Attorney General's office to draft the regulation which is expected to be ready by the end of June or in July.

The principal secretary added that the regulation will "probably come into operation at the start of 2021 as we need to take into consideration the operators, who will need to carry out some work on their side."

There are only two companies providing mobile services in Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean and these are Cable and Wireless Seychelles and Airtel Seychelles.

The legal, regulatory, internal audit and compliance manager at Airtel, Erol Sophola, told SNA that "for the time being the company is waiting for an official communication on the subject matter from the regulator along with the proposed regulation to be gazetted."

He said, "These official communications will provide details on when and how the per-second billing will be implemented. It is only then that we would be able to appreciate the possible implications of the regulation on both the business and customers."

"Nonetheless, Airtel will comply with its legal obligations and remains committed to serving the best interest of the people and the country," added Sophola.

The public relations executive at Cable and Wireless Seychelles, Bella Damou, said that consultation with local partners is a step in the right direction to have legislation that reflects the local environment and follows best practices.

"However, Cable and Wireless Seychelles is not sure what process DICT has used to obtain the views and comments of stakeholders who are not service providers," she added.

The new regulation will not affect the way landline services are charged.

"Our specialists analysed that with a landline, prices are a lot lower even if a customer is being charged per three minutes. We didn't get many complaints coming from landline users and as per best international practices, we do not see per-second billing for landlines," said Choppy.

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