TCRA mulls further drop in mobile phone user rates

13Dec 2017
The Guardian
TCRA mulls further drop in mobile phone user rates

THE Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) is contemplating a downward revision of voice call interconnection rates among mobile phone service providers in the country.

The communication watchdog said in a statement yesterday that industry stakeholders met in Dar es Salaam yesterday to discuss the issue more thoroughly.

“Stakeholders met on December 12, 2017 to discuss a new glide path for cost-based voice call termination rates”, the statement said.

TCRA has been striving to bring down mobile phone interconnection rates since 2013, citing a decrease in voice call costs globally.

The current rate of 26.96/- per minute, which came into force on January 1 this year, is set to expire at the end of this month, the statement noted.

When the regulator announced new voice call rates in March 2013, the cost dropped to 34/90 from the previous year’s 115/-.

Since then, the rate for 2014 was 32/40 per minute, dropping further to 30/58 in 2015, 28/57 in 2016, and the current 26/96 for 2017.

TCRA is now proposing to bring down the voice call charges to 15.6/- per minute from January 1 next year.

“Such changes in cost will be done annually whereas on January 1, 2019, mobile phone users will be able to make calls at a cost of 10.4/- per minute,” the company’s statement added.

TCRA also plans to furthermore drop call termination charges to 5.2/- per minute from January 1, 2020, 2.6/- per minute from January 1, 2021, and finally 2/- from January 1, 2022.

Reports have it that Tanzania posted a 0.9 percent annual increase in the number of mobile phone subscribers in 2016 to 40.17 million.

Mobile phone use has surged in Tanzania and other African countries over the past decade, helped by the launch of cheaper smartphones.

Telecommunications is now one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country, which has a population of around 50 million.

Mobile money service users in the country grew to 18.08 million last year from 17.63 million previously, the state-run TCRA said in a report.

Mobile phone service providers in Tanzania include Vodacom Tanzania, a unit of South Africa’s Vodacom; Tigo Tanzania, which is part of Sweden’s Millicom; Bharti Airtel Tanzania; and Halotel, owned by Vietnam-based telecoms operator Viettel.

The three biggest operators - Vodacom, Tigo and Airtel – are all in line for Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) listing as a mandatory legal requirement.