POMCCI calls for lower mobile rates

National, Normal

MOBILE phone termination rates in PNG are high and should be brought down, the Port Moresby Chamber of Commerce and Industry (POMCCI) said.
And if the mobile phone operators are having difficulties reaching an acceptable rate, then foreign experitise should be sought.
Operators bemobile, Digicel and Telikom have submitted proposed rates to the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC).
The commission proposed news rates to the operators two weeks ago, which will see a drop of about 15% from the current termination rates.
The new rates were considered unacceptable and still too high compared to other countries.
Industry sources consider it favourable to Digicel, and bemobile was considering legal action.
The proposed new rates were leaked to the press, angering ICCC.
POMCCI chief executive officer David Conn said on Saturday they supported the concern shown by the ICCC at the release of confidential information to the press.
“The leaks are clearly driven by those who perceive the result will not be in their favour,” Mr Conn said.
“The chamber is supportive of the operators in their push for a quick release of the determination.
“The end result of any delays is that the consumer pays the interconnection rate, whatever it is to be, so a quick decision in their favour is what is required.”
He said research by regulators within the European Union revealed that high interconnection rates between operators penalise the consumer and could inhibit competition in the marketplace.
He said the rights of the consumer and businesses had to be paramount over those of the three operators.
“The essence of the problem seems to be how to actually determine what the mobile termination rates of the operators are.
“The current termination rate in PNG is around US$0.15/minute, while in India it is only US$0.004/ min, Thailand US$0.02/ min and even in the Solomons, who possibly have an even worse network than PNG, it is only US$0.09/min.
“If the actual termination rate is proving difficult for the regulator (ICCC) to ascertain, or operators are reluctant to release the required information then perhaps we need some outside expertise to come in, who will be able to ask the right questions and come up with a fair, independent declaration on the termination rates.”