Cell C had many highs and lows in 2014, which included the battle around mobile termination rates and the operator’s strong subscriber growth.
Cell C CEO Jose dos Santos said that one of the biggest highlights this year was the company’s strong growth, doubling its subscriber base between September 2013 and September 2014.
“Our partnership with WhatsApp and the launch of several other innovative products and value offerings have all been highlights for me,” said dos Santos.
The battle around termination rates
2014 saw many big changes in the termination rate landscape, which included a legal battle after Icasa’s initial mobile termination rate regulations were announced.
Dos Santos said that one of the highlights of 2014 was the initial bold move by the regulator on mobile termination rates.
This move, he said, would have provided smaller players with an excellent competitive lever that would have resulted in a strong mobile industry.
“Unfortunately this highlight was short-lived when the larger, incumbent players challenged these regulations in court,” said dos Santos.
This legal challenge resulted in dramatic u-turn by the regulator on termination rates, which dos Santos said was one of the low points of the year.
“What should have been a pro-competitive remedy to allow challenger operators to compete more aggressively has become a token set of regulations that really reinforces the status quo,” he said.
The battle of two dominant players
Dos Santos said that the continued dominance of two players in the mobile market was a concern, and the lack of any competitive lever didn’t benefit anyone, least of all the consumer.
He added that the planned acquisition of Neotel by Vodacom was also concerning. “If approved by the relevant parties, this deal could diminish competition even more,” he said.
No clarity on South Africa Connect
The Cell C CEO said that despite the government’s call for affordable access to high-speed broadband services for all, there was still little clarity on South Africa Connect.
“Cell C is keen to participate in a programme that provides access to all South Africans, but the lack of clarity keeps all players tentative about their own plans,” said dos Santos.
He suggested a wholesale national open-access network – built by a consortium of private and public businesses – could provide the next level of high-speed access to consumers at a reasonable price.
What to look forward to in 2015
“The telecommunications environment is an exciting space at the moment,” said dos Santos.
He said that he was looking forward to many things next year, including Icasa’s plans to start acting on spectrum allocation.
He also expects to see a dramatic shift in the market’s plans to provide high-speed LTE access.
From a Cell C perspective he said consumers can expect more simplicity in their product range, more creative product offerings, and that they will take customer focus to the next level.