South Africa’s Competition Commission (CC) will not pursue a case against Vodacom and MTN for anti-competitive conduct, due to insufficient evidence.

The regulator confirmed it would not prosecute the country’s top two operators, despite conducting a lengthy investigation into the pair’s pricing strategies following a complaint made in 2013 by Cell C, the country’s third largest operators.

Cell C alleged the pricing structures of MTN and Vodacom prevented competition and accused the two operators of excessive pricing, inducement and margin squeeze.

At the heart of Cell C’s complaint was so-called ‘on net’ pricing, where calls made to other subscribers on the same network are either free or discounted.

In a written statement the CC said: “The Commission found that it would be unlikley to succeed in a prosecution of the specific conduct subject to Cell C’s complaint.

“However, there is evidence to suggest that this conduct and other features of the market, in particular the price differentials applied for on-net and off-net calls as well as long-term subscribers’ contracts, have made it difficult for late entrants such as Cell C to compete effectively.”

As a result of its findings, the CC said it will now explore “regulatory interventions that may be necessary to make the market competitive” in collaboration with the country’s communications authority, the ICASA.