Local mobile tariffs finally slashed

Cellphone User
Cellphone User

Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) on Tuesday unveiled eagerly awaited reductions in local voice calls, showing significant revisions in the cost of calls between the two biggest networks, Mascom and Orange.

June 1, 2018 marked the last of a two-year directive by BOCRA removing the off-net premium for calls between mobile networks. Prior to this, Mascom and Orange were charging their subscribers a premium to call outside their home networks, a matter that was eventually settled by the High Court recently in BOCRA’s favour.

BOCRA’s corporate communications deputy director, Aaron Nyelesi said Mascom, Orange and beMOBILE’s on-net and off-net calls were now charged at the same rate, with effect from June 1. However, the mobile networks would continue maintaining different pricing structures.

“The cost of calls within and between Mascom, Orange and beMOBILE will be the same from June 1, at wholesale level. At retail level, the different networks have different mark ups and costings,” he said.

The removal of Off-Net premiums follows the implementation of regulatory Directive No.1 of 2007 issued by BOCRA mandating operators to remove Off-Net premiums over a period of two years.

The beMOBILE customers have not been affected since there were no off-net premium charges as it currently charges P1.32 across all networks during peak hours and P0.60 during off-peak hours.

During peak hours, Mascom customers will be charged P1.20 per minute to call across the networks and P0.60 per minute during off peak. Approved postpaid voice calls from Mascom to other networks including international mobile networks will be charged at P0.96 per minute during peak hours and P0.45 per minute during off peak hours.

The approved prepaid tariff for Orange customers is P1.35 across networks during peak hours and P0.88 per minute during off-peak hours including Sundays and public holidays.

The latest developments come after Mascom dragged BOCRA to the High Court, demanding the reversal of the decision to scrap the off-net premium.

In its suit, Mascom said the envisioned tariffs were “too low,” and also accused BOCRA of acting “illegally, irrationally and irregularly”. The mobile carrier said consultations with BOCRA over the key rate had agreed on a three-year glide-path, but the regulator’s board had unanimously decided on a two-year period at the last minute without involving the networks.

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