Botswana: BOCRA sets new ICT pricing frameworks

Botswana: BOCRA sets new ICT pricing frameworks

The Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) has issued a new directive on ICT services pricing.

BOCRA, established in April 2013 in terms of the Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) Act of 2012, is mandated to fulfil among others the following: Promote and protect interests of consumers and other users of services in the regulated sectors in respect of, among others, prices charged;  Monitor the performance of the regulated sectors in terms of levels of competition, cost of services and the efficiency of production and distribution of services; and Monitor and seek ways to improve efficiency of the communications sector both for the benefit of the consumer and licensed operators.

In a communique sent to biztechafrica, by the organisation’s communications and public relations chief Aaron Nyelesi,  the organisation wrote that; “In pursuance of the above mandate, the Authority embarked on development of Cost Model and Pricing Framework for ICT Services in Botswana in 2016. It says the purpose of the Study was to establish cost of supplying services by service providers and create an appropriate forward looking pricing framework for the market.  Similar studies were undertaken in 2005 and 2010.

Accordingly, the Study was a consultative exercise that involved PTOs, Policy maker, internet service providers and consumers and the general public. What follows is a detailed breakdown of how the directive will be apply where necessary:

DIRECTIVE NO.1 OF 2017

Following the Study, BOCRA issued Directive No. 1 of 2017.  

SCOPE

The Directive focused on:

    • Fixed termination rates;
    • Mobile termination rates;
    • Off Net mobile voice call prices;
    • Wholesale Fixed Broadband Services;
    • International Voice Transit;
    • Facilitation of market entry by Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs);
    • Wholesale and Retail bandwidth services;
    • Accounting Separation; and
    • Wholesale Reference Offers.

The Directive has not made pronouncement on mobile broadband data.  The 2016 Study has established that the cost of supplying mobile broadband is high and is mainly attributable to high costs incurred in the radio access network (or base stations) that are extensively rolled out nationwide.  As part of the implementation of the National Broadband Strategy the Authority mandated the operators to roll-out 3G radio base stations in all areas with more than 5000 inhabitants and 4G radio base stations in areas with more than 10000 inhabitants without any subsidy.

The Authority in collaboration with Service Providers and other relevant stakeholders, are working to find ways of reducing the cost of providing mobile broadband services. Through the Universal Access and Service Fund mobile network operators will be subsidised to upgrade their 2G to 3G in the under-served areas in Mabutsane, Kgalagadi and Ghanzi area.

Service providers offer various “data bundles” which are real competitive. The various data bundle packages are priced to meet the varied characteristics of the target markets.  Consumers are encouraged to shop around and take advantage of mobile broadband packages that offer lower rates per Megabyte.

IMPLEMENTATION OF DIRECTIVE

Fixed termination rates; The termination rate for fixed calls was 20 thebe/minute and operators have been directed to reduce to 17 thebe/minute by 1 June 2017 and further reduction to 13 thebe/minute by 1 June 2018

Mobile termination rates, mobile termination rate was 29.5 thebe/minute and it has been reduced to 22 thebe/minute by 1 June 2017 and it will be reduced to 13 thebe/minute by 1 June 2018

Off Net mobile voice call prices, BOCRA has directed Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to remove the Off-Net premiums and ensure they charge consumers the same tariff for On-Net and Off-Net calls.

MNOs are expected to implement the reduction of tariffs in two phases.  The first phase began on 1 June 2017 and second phase will begin on 1 June 2018.

Tables 1-5 depict approved retail tariff ceilings for implementation by MNOs during the first phase that took effect from 1 June 2017;

MASCOM WIRELESS (PTY) LTD

Table 1: Approved Prepaid Voice call tariffs in Pula/minute

Call type Peak Off-Peak Off-Off Peak
Prepaid Voice Tariffs (Including VAT) Mascom to Mascom 1.20 0.60 0.45
Mascom to fixed networks 1.20 0.60 0.45
Mascom to Other National Mobile Networks 1.40 (1.50) 0.70

(0.75)

0.55

(.60)

Table 2: Approved Postpaid Voice call tariffs in Pula/minute

Call Type Peak Off-Peak Off-Off Peak
Postpaid Voice Tariffs (Excluding VAT) Mascom to Mascom 0.96 0.55 0.45
Mascom to fixed networks 1.10

(1.20)

0.55 0.45
Mascom to Other National Mobile Networks 1.10

(1.20)

0.55

(0.65)

0.45

(0.65)

ORANGE BOTSWANA (PTY) LTD

Table 3: Approved Prepaid Voice call tariffs in Pula/minute

Call Type Peak

7am – 9pm

Off-Peak

9pm – 7 am

Prepaid Voice Tariffs (Including VAT) Orange to Orange 1.35 0.875
Orange to Fixed Networks 1.55 (1.65) 0.875
Orange to Other National Mobile Networks 1.55 (1.65) 0.875

Sundays and Public Holidays tariffs are same as off peak rates

Reduction of Orange post paid off net tariffs will be communicated soon and will also be effective 1 June 2017.

Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL)

Table 4: Prepaid call tariffs

Prepaid rates BTCL Mobile to BTCL Mobile BTC mobile to Fixed BTC mobile to other Mobile
Per Minute Rates-Voice (VAT Inc) Peak 1.32 1.32 1.32
Per Minute Rates-Voice (VAT Inc) Off-peak 0.60 0.60 0.60

Table 5: Postpaid Call Tariffs

Postpaid Packages Price
Per Minute Rates (VAT Inc) 1.28

BTCL has not made any changes to its tariffs as it does not have an off-net premium.

Consumers are informed that the approved tariffs are the maximum prices that all MNOs can charge for any voice call service. Therefore, all other packages offered by MNOs should fall within the above approved prices.

Wholesale Fixed Broadband Services; For the Fixed broadband services the service providers have been requested to submit wholesale reference offers by 30 June 2017 and they will be made available by September 2017.

As a Regulator our main focus is around consumer experience and consumer protection and we commit to addressing, with great diligence, issues on fair pricing and fair billing, consumer education with respect to products they buy and how they must get better value out of those products and most importantly quality of service for both voice and internet services.  We shall work hard to ensure that customers get what they pay for.

Source: BizTech Africa



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