Telkom invites LCR users to join legal fray

Johannesburg, 10 Mar 2003
Read time 1min 40sec

Telkom at the weekend published an open invitation for interested parties to join in the battle between itself and companies offering least-cost routing cellphone services.

The invitation, ordered by the Pretoria High Court two weeks ago, gives those affected by Telkom`s continuing fight against least-cost routing (LCR) until the end of April to register interest in the case. They will then have until August to submit written arguments, and the case is due to resume in early October.

Telkom is facing MTN, Nedtel Cellular, Nashua and Orion Cellular as it argues that LCR is illegal. It reached a settlement with Vodacom, of which it owns 50%, late last year.

The fixed-line operator claims LCR, which routes calls from a company telephone system to a cellphone number directly onto the cellular network, is an illegal circumvention of its network. But companies have been quick to take up the product, most often known as Corporate Connect or Premicell, because it offers savings of up to 40% on monthly telephone bills. Even the government`s Department of Communications uses LCR at its Pretoria headquarters.

Yet it remains to be seen how many potentially affected parties will appear in court. In its invitation, Telkom says anyone joining the battle may become liable for a part of the costs it could be awarded if it wins the court case.

Telkom says it is losing millions of rands in interconnection revenue because LCR allows companies to avoid using its services.

When the issue goes back to court it will be more than three years since Telkom first asked for an urgent interdict to stop the practice of LCR.

Related stories:
Telkom resumes least-cost routing battle
DOC wants 'illegal` telecoms equipment

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