19/04/2017 11:22 SAST | Updated 19/04/2017 11:35 SAST

SA's Competition Commission Calls For Probe Into Cellphone Market

While it declined to investigate a complaint against two cellphone companies, the commission said there's scope for a wider probe.

Phil Noble / Reuters
WhatsApp and Facebook messenger icons are seen on an iPhone in Manchester , Britain March 27, 2017. REUTERS/Phil Noble

The Competition Commission has called for a wider probe into competition in the cellphone industry, Business Day reported on Wednesday. The call came after Cell C laid a complaint against its competitors, MTN and Vodacom. That complaint was dismissed.

According to the paper, Cell C's complaint was on the grounds of anticompetitive conduct related to calls between users of the same network. The complaint was reportedly dismissed for lack of evidence.

In the complaint, lodged in 2013, Cell C alleged that Vodacom and MTN had used price differentials which prevented competition, and accused them of excessive pricing and margin squeezing.

Vodacom and MTN reportedly own 70% of the market.

According to Business Day, while the commission said it did not have enough evidence, it would talk to the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to "explore regulatory interventions that may be necessary to make the market competitive".

The paper quoted Icasa spokesperson, Paseka Maleka who said the regulator had made "serious inroads" to ensure a drop in calling tariffs, and said it was conducting a study into data pricing.

Cell C spokesperson Karin Fourie told Business Day that Cell C was "encouraged" by the news.