Cell C accuses rivals of anticompetitive conduct

South Africa's third-largest mobile operator Cell C has lodged an antitrust complaint against MTN Group and Vodacom, charging its bigger rivals with what it called "discriminatory pricing".

Cell C said in a statement it had lodged the complaint with the Competition Commission over the rates MTN and Vodacom charge their own customers for calling users of other networks.

It said MTN and Vodacom offer discounts when customers call subscribers on the same network, but charge a premium for calls to other networks.

"The two dominant incumbents discount their effective on-net prices substantially while charging a premium for their customers to call off-net. This amounts to discriminatory pricing and is without doubt anti-competitive when adopted by dominant operators," said Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig. "Customers that call off-net are being penalised often without them realising it. With number portability, customers don't always know if they are calling on- or off-net anymore, so they don't actually know what rate they are paying," he added.

In 2013, the Nigerian regulator called on MTN Nigeria to introduce flat rates (where on-net tariffs are the same as off-net tariffs) as 85 percent of MTN's traffic is on-net in that country.

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