(Business in Cameroon) - In a correspondence dated January 8, 2020, Philemon Zo'o Zame, director-general of the Telecom Regulatory Agency (ART) asked Orange Cameroon to lower the cost of calls and SMS.
“The 2020 offer intended for operators holding a concession has not been received and the 2019 offer intended for providers of electronic communication services does not comply with the provisions of decisions n° 00173 and 174/ART/DG/DLC/SDIICE/SIAR of 02 October 2019” setting the cap of prices for access to the catalogue of SMS MT (Mobile Terminating), Bulk SMS, USSD codes and the revenue-sharing schedule for the surcharge on voice, SMS and USSD services for the 2019 fiscal year,” Philemon Zo'o Zame writes.
“In accordance with the rules in force and in order to ensure that the community of operators are properly informed, you have one month to publish the 2019 catalogue, intended for operators holding a concession, in a legal notice newspaper, in a regularly published general information newspaper, and on your company's website,” he adds.
The ART reports that Orange Cameroon sent in its draft interconnection catalogue, which is a tool to ensure the functional and harmonious regulation of interconnection, access, and sharing of infrastructures of electronic communications networks open to the public.
In the said draft catalogue, Orange Cameroon kept the same interconnection tariff offers as that of the 2018 fiscal year, i.e. XAF22/min at peak times, 20XAF/min at off-peak times for voice and XAF6 for SMS. The conditions for the implementation of the co-location and infrastructure sharing service were the same as that of the 2018 fiscal year.
The ART then reviewed the draft, taking into account the principle of balancing interconnection tariffs between the costs of the economic efficiency of Orange Cameroon's network and the economic situation of the national telecommunications market.
Arguments and counter-arguments
At the end of the review, the ART made the following recommendations to Orange Cameroon: a 45% reduction in voice call termination rates, i.e. XAF12 FCFA at peak hours and XAF10 at off-peak hours. There is also a 25% reduction in SMS termination rates, a reduction of urban and long-distance leased line rates as well as the integration of a sub-section specifying the terms and conditions for the provision of international call termination services by other national operators.
In addition, the operator was asked to specify a firm deadline for activating numbering resources after receipt of a formal request.
In response, Orange submitted, on May 15, 2019, its revised draft interconnection catalogue. The revised draft was still not in compliance with ART’s recommendations.
In order to obtain clarifications on the proposed tariffs, the Agency invited Orange to a consultation on July 11, 2019. At the end of the discussions, the mobile operator justified its tariffs by the investments made to ensure the development of their networks and the financial imbalances that could result from an about 45% reduction in termination rates over a single fiscal year.
Thus, on 1 August 2019, the ART sent its new recommendations to Orange Cameroon. This time, the regulator asked the operator to reduce voice call termination rates by 32% in 2019 and 45% in 2020. The 25% cut in SMS termination rates in 2019 was maintained and the deadline set by the Agency for the transmission of the revised draft catalogues was 14 August 2019.
However, Orange Cameroon has not sent the catalogue, ART explains.
After several reminders and exchanges, Orange sent, on 24 December 2019, a catalogue setting, among other things, voice call termination at XAF16 /minute at peak hours (7 am to 8:59 pm) and XAF14/minute at off-peak hours (from 9 pm to 6:59 am). The conditions for the implementation of collocation and infrastructure sharing have not changed compared to that of 2018.
The regulator is now expecting Orange Cameroon to publish its new catalogue.