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Interconnection Rates to Go Down

Sep 12, 2008, 6:39 AM | Article By: By Baboucarr Senghore

If the report from the Department of State for Communication and Information Technology is any guide, then interconnection rates between telecommunications operators, Gamtel, Gamcel, Africell and Comium will by the 8thOctober 2008 come down.

This latest development, which follows a study conducted by an International Telecommunication Union (ITU) consultant that found out that current interconnection rates are high leading to unreasonable direct and indirect costs, is developed into two phases.

According to the report, phase one will ensure that interconnection rates between all operators (mobile and fixed) be decreased to D1.00 with effect from 8thOctober 2008.

Phase two of the project will ensure that interconnection rates between all operators (mobile and fixed) will be further decreased to 50 Bututs with effect from 8thApril 2009 while interconnection rates for international calls will remain unchanged in the absence of competition in international gateways.

This, according to the report, means that the current interconnection rates will be brought down in two phases over a six month interval commencing 8thOctober and ending 8thApril 2009.

At a joint press briefing between DOSCIT and PURA, held at the Department of State for Communications and Information Technology yesterday, Hon. Fatim Badjie Janneh, Secretary of State for Communications and Information Technology, said the objective of this reduction will create a balance between investors and consumers and will eventually lead to reduction in cost of off-net calls (calls across network).

According to Secy. Badjie Janneh, in recognition of the fact interconnection rates between telecommunications service providers are too high, it was felt necessary to ensure the consumer is protected from both the financial and physical inconvenience caused by such high interconnection rates.

"Both DOSCIT and PURA also see the lowering of interconnection rates over a phased period of six months as an opportunity for operators to prepare themselves for real competition on quality of products and services," she said.

For his part, Mr. Alahie B. Gaye, Director General of PURA, the regulators and implementers of such policies said the final decision arrived at was based on the core recommendation of the report which was that current interconnection rates of all carriers should be unified and lowered to a target rate of 50 Bututs a minute over a period of time called the "phase down period".

"PURA working hand in hand with DOSCIT wishes to assure the general public that, the interest of consumers in the drive for acceptable, affordable, available and accessible services remains paramount," said Mr. Gaye.

The joint press briefing between DOSCIT and PURA, according to Director General Gaye, demonstrates that stakeholder co-operation is essential for the collective attainment of shared policy objectives beneficial to the nation at large.