Malawi Communications Regulator Authority (Macra) says telecommunication operators have started reducing their tariffs for calls and data in line with one of the objectives of the Communications Act.
When tariffs are considered high in telecommunications services, Macra intervenes by asking operators to reduce their interconnection rates.
In a statement, Macra says since effecting the reductions, operators have responded by reducing the retail rates consumers pay for calling and sending short message service (SMS).
Reads the statement in part: “Macra directed all operators to reduce to K14 per minute and has further reduced to K8 per minute from January 2019. It is expected that this will be at K4 per minute from January 2020.”
The statement further says this means that when wholesale prices are reduced, consumers expect the retail prices to drop as well.
Macra says the intervention on Internet data is a bit different as the regulator is using models developed with the operators.
The intervention by Macra followed complaints from consumers that tariffs for calls and data were on the higher side.
The International Telecommunications Union (ITU) also established in its 2017 study that Malawi has one of the highest rates of mobile tariffs in the world.
In an earlier interview, Macra director general Godfrey Itaye said there would be a gradual reduction in tariffs from January 2018 to December 31 2018 and the maximum call termination rate for wholesale voice services shall be two cents per minute.
This means that from January 2019 to December 31 2019, the maximum call termination rate for wholesale voice services is 1.2 cents per minute.
From January 1 2020 until further revision by the authority, the maximum call termination rate for wholesale voice services will be 0.6 cents per minute.
Since then the country has been experiencing the price drops of various telecommunication services and products offered by all operators.
Macra communications manager Clara Mwafulirwa said this means that voice tariffs for both fixed and mobile phone have gone down by K14 per minute in 2018, then K8 per minute in 2019 and it is expected to reduce by a further K4 per minute in 2020, making a total reduction of K26 per minute.
“The authority expects all operators to pass on this reduction to the retail prices that consumers pay per call and per SMS,” she said.
In 2017, Macra developed Cost Models and Pricing Frameworks for Wholesale and Retail Telecommunications Services which established the cost of fixed and mobile voice as well as internet data services in the country.