When it comes to the telecoms industry in South Africa, it seems that the consumer will always get the bum deal. And it’s pretty obvious that those few who dominate the market have no intention of allowing this to change.

Take the current mobile termination rate (MTR) battle that is (as I write this) raging in the Gauteng High Court.

SA’s mobile duopoly – and – have taken the communications regulator to task in an attempt to block its move to introduce lower interconnection fees, structured asymmetrically to favour the county’s two smaller mobile players – and Mobile.

At the centre of and ’s argument – the basis for their court action - is that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa () failed to follow proper procedure when it said rates must reach 40c for and Mobile, and 10c for the two dominant players in 2016. The aim is to have an across-the-board MTR of 10c by 2017.

’s “aggressive” move – as it has been described by the industry players – is meant to spur more in the sector, indirectly benefi ting consumers.

However, while and have argued that they too are seeking to benefit consumers, they are also claiming that there is no substantial link between lower termination rates and retail costs.

Unfortunately, while this has been their song and dance since first moved to lower interconnection rates in 2009, none of the operators have come up with any better ways of lowering retail rates.

In the weeks leading up to the court hearing, and became embroiled in a bun fight over the other’s position on the MTR issue, through various communication channels – including expensive radio and newspaper ads.

This latest MTR bout is also not the fi rst time that one of the big two operators has bullied the regulator by threatening to take legal action, and I doubt it will be the last. It has always been a known fact that lacks cajones, so why not take advantage?

I suppose it was only a matter of time before some clever industry analysts started to argue that all the operators are trying to do is protect their bottom lines.

Sadly, while all of this has been happening, we have forgotten about someone very important – someone whose interests are supposedly at the centre of this entire sorry saga. The consumer.

Unfortunately, not much is likely to change for the consumer. I think it’s safe to say it will simply be business as usual – the operators will continue to rake in billions and the consumer will continue getting screwed.

Happy reading!

Martin Czernowalow