April 18, 2017 / 2:39 PM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-SAfrica's competition watchdog says not pursuing pricing complaint against MTN, Vodacom

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JOHANNESBURG, April 18 (Reuters) - South Africa's competition regulator has decided against pursuing a complaint of unfair pricing lodged against mobile phone giants MTN Group and Vodacom by smaller unlisted rival Cell C.

Cell C made the complaint with the Competition Commission in 2013, accusing MTN and Vodacom of discriminatory pricing because its larger rivals made it cheaper for users to call customers on the same network but charged a premium for calls to other networks.

"The Commission found that it would be unlikely to succeed in a prosecution of the specific conduct subject to Cell C's complaint," it said in a statement.

However, the Commission, which investigates cases and makes remedial recommendations to the Competition Tribunal, said Vodacom and MTN's pricing strategies made it difficult for late entrants like Cell C to compete effectively.

It said there was a need to look more broadly into the state of competition in the South African telecoms market and would discuss possible regulatory interventions with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, the industry watchdog, to make the market competitive. (Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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