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South Africa's Cell C lodges competition complaint against MTN, Vodacom

By Tiisetso Motsoeneng

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's third-largest mobile operator Cell C on Wednesday lodged an antitrust complaint against MTN Group and Vodacom, charging its bigger rivals with "discriminatory pricing".

Unlisted Cell C said in a statement it had lodged the complaint with South Africa's competition watchdog over the rates MTN and Vodacom charge their own customers for calling users of other networks.

MTN and Vodacom offer discounts when customers call subscribers on the same network, but charge a premium for calls to other networks, Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig said in a statement.

"This amounts to discriminatory pricing and is without a doubt anti-competitive when adopted by dominant operators," he said.

No one was immediately available for comment at MTN or Vodacom.

It was not immediately clear what action, if any, the Pretoria-based Competition Commission would take after receiving the complaint.

South Africa's telecoms operator on Friday said it planned to cut by 75 percent the fees mobile companies can charge rivals to use their networks.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa plans to cut the so-called mobile termination rates to 10 South African cents by 2016, from 40 cents now.

Vodacom, a unit of Britain's Vodafone Plc is the dominant carrier in South Africa. Bigger rival MTN Group is the largest mobile operator in Africa but has a smaller slice of the South African market.

(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; editing by David Dolan)

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