CELL C has called on the telecommunications regulator to suspend the final mobile termination rate cut until a market review has been completed.

The mobile termination rate is the fee operators charge to complete each other’s calls on their networks.

From March 1 it will fall to 40c for both peak and off-peak periods, from a high of R1.25 three years ago when the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) introduced gradual cuts.

Cell C said Icasa should conduct "an urgent market review to determine the effectiveness of the call termination regulations and whether they have had the desired effect on reducing the cost to communicate in South Africa".

Cell C has called for a drop in termination rates, saying they should be substantially lower to encourage more operator-to-operator traffic and enable lower retail tariffs. It has also called for "asymmetry for smaller operators until they achieve a competitive degree of scale".

With asymmetrical termination rates, small operators can charge their bigger rivals more than the stipulated rate.

Cell C said it was "concerned that if the (rate) drops to the proposed 44c for mobile operators without significant market power (on March 1), then the ratio of asymmetry that smaller operators require to compete effectively with the dominant incumbents will not thereafter be realised".