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MBABANE – The country’s telecommunications industry Regulator, the Swaziland Communications Commission (SCCOM), is sitting on an application by Swazi MTN to have its roaming charges reduced.

The Times SUNDAY has learnt that there are now suspicions that the regulator is deliberately delaying the application because the mobile telecommunications company filed the request allegedly some two weeks ago. 
Among its objectives, SCCOM has to promote competition in the sector and also regulate tariffs charged by operators offering electronic communication services.
It also has to protect interests of consumers and enhance awareness of their rights and obligations.

This publication has reliably learnt that Swazi MTN has been inundated with complaints from customers who accumulated excessive charges after using the roaming facility during international trips.
One of the complaints is reported to have come from a foreign envoy who travelled to South Africa for close to a week and accumulated charges of more than E20 000.
Several senior officials, who cannot be mentioned, have accumulated thousands of Emalangeni during foreign trips in roaming charges.

Because of the delay by SCCOM, Swazi MTN is expected not to roll out the revised, and possibly reduced roaming prices without approval. Recently, Swazi MTN introduced massive price reduction on its services but the roaming charges are one area that has been left untouched.
When SCCOM was approached to give clarity on Swazi MTN’s application, specifically on whether the application has been made, and why it was not being responded to, the regulator refused to disclose such information.
“The Swaziland Communications Commission from time to time engages with all the licensed communications operators in Swaziland on matters relating to the industry and their operations as provided for in the governing legislation.

Unfortunately, SCCOM does not disclose details of such engagements to third parties,” said Lindiwe Dlamini, SCCOM’s General Manager Strategy and Economic Regulation. 
Swazi MTN’s Corporate Affairs Manager Mandla Luphondvo confirmed that as part of the price transformation process, Swazi MTN was looking at reviewing their roaming charges.
“Review of roaming fees is actually a component of a bigger process, known as price transformation. In the context of high wholesale prices, the company creatively set out to give our customers more value, starting off with data. The process reached a pinnacle in June this year when we passed on further price reduction for our valued customers following reduction in wholesale prices,” Luphondvo said. 

He stated that it was important to note that Swazi MTN’s price review decision to drop its charges was actually facilitated by the Regulator, for which we are grateful. “The Regulator actually engaged all players in the telecommunications space to ensure that wholesale prices were reduced to ensure that telecommunications costs were affordable.
“Subsequently, Swazi MTN was happy to pass on reduction to our valued customers. Swazi MTN is grateful for the consistent support that we continue to receive from the Swaziland Communication Commission,” said Luphondvo.
Swazi MTN is adamant that the decision to review its prices was not influenced by the coming in of Swazi Mobile as the second player in the Kingdom’s telecommunications industry.

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