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#DataMustFall

We will bring data prices down in South Africa

Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel has stated that bringing data prices down will be a priority for the government in 2018. Patel said the cost of data will come down following a competition market inquiry into data services. National Treasury directed[1] the Competition Commission to investigate data prices in 2017.

The commission is looking to identify areas where consumers may be exploited or excluded. It also wants to identify structural, behavioural, or regulatory factors influencing competition or pricing. The assessment will include[2] the market structure, the impact of regulations, the investment in infrastructure by operators, and their access to spectrum.

The commission will also benchmark South African data services pricing against other countries. Recommendations on how the market could be made more competitive and inclusive, and how data prices can be brought down will then be made. The commission expects to finish the inquiry by 31 August 2018.

Building fibre

Patel also announced plans to build fibre networks in South Africa.

He said the government will expand infrastructure through finalising the release of new spectrum – thanks to the migration from analogue to digital TV broadcasting.

“We’ll conclude key policies including the entry of cross-border ecommerce in South Africa,” added Patel.

Now read: Competition Commission launches investigation into data prices[3]

References

  1. ^ National Treasury directed (mybroadband.co.za)
  2. ^ The assessment will include (mybroadband.co.za)
  3. ^ Competition Commission launches investigation into data prices (mybroadband.co.za)

South African data prices – Mobile vs Fixed

Mobile data prices in South Africa came under scrutiny in 2017, with consumers uniting under the banner of #DataMustFall. The campaign made its way to Parliament, and ICASA is proposing regulations to make mobile data more affordable. The calls did not fall on deaf ears, and MTN CEO Rob Shuter said entry-level and OOB data prices need to be addressed.

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub also acknowledged that mobile data prices should come down, and they are focused on addressing high out-of-bundle pricing.

Spectrum challenges

Vodacom and MTN have consistently said getting more spectrum will help them to launch faster, more affordable mobile data services. The Department of Communications and the Department of Telecommunications have failed the industry, however. The spectrum assignment process has dragged on since 2006, which means spectrum that can make mobile broadband faster and cheaper is being wasted.

Without additional spectrum, operators have to rollout more towers and invest more in their networks to provide a high-quality broadband experience. These costs are passed on to consumers, who pay higher data prices.

More competition

The Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa said that to bring down the price of mobile data, the industry needs more competition through wholesale deals. Its argument is that what happened in the ADSL market – where prices remained high until competition at the ISP level was introduced – can take place in the mobile market.

Aggressive price reductions and better services are often a result of increased competition, it said. South Africa’s mobile market has enough infrastructure players – Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom, and Rain – but more competition can be introduced by assigning more spectrum to operators and by making it affordable for ISPs to offer mobile data services.

ADSL vs Mobile

The effect of competition on broadband prices can be seen in the ADSL market, where prices plummeted after additional ISPs and undersea cable operators were allowed to enter the market. The charts below show the price of ADSL data in South Africa, and the price of mobile data (Vodacom) since launch.

Now read: Mobile data which lasts 3 years[1]

References

  1. ^ Mobile data which lasts 3 years (mybroadband.co.za)

Report data theft to ICASA – New Minister

Newly-appointed Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi says the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is ready to receive complaints related to the theft of mobile phone data. Responding to oral questions, the Minister made her maiden appearance in the National Council of Provinces on Wednesday in her new Communications Portfolio. Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Member of Parliament Nkagisang Mokgotsi had asked whether the department has conducted an investigation into the alleged theft of customer data.

The Minister, who had chaired hearings on the cost of data under the banner #DataMustFall, said ICASA was yet to receive complaints. “The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa has established a complaints and compliance committee, in terms of section 17(a) of the ICASA Act number 13 of 2000, to investigate and hear if appropriate, make a finding on all matters referred to the authority and complaints received by it. “To date, the authority has not received any information regarding the theft of data.

However, upon receipt of such information, a detailed investigation will be conducted and a report can be available,” she said.

SIU commences work at SABC

Meanwhile, Minister Kubayi said the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has commenced its probe into the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). Last month, the Presidency announced that President Jacob Zuma had signed a proclamation to give the SIU a mandate to investigate matters related to procurement. The investigation will look at contracting for goods, work or services by or on behalf of the SABC from various companies or service providers and payments made in respect thereof in a manner that was not fair, transparent, competitive and equitable or cost effective.

The investigation will also look at whether there was any undisclosed or unauthorised interest that certain members of the personnel of the SABC may have had with regard to contractors, suppliers or service providers, who submitted bids for work or did business with the SABC; or contractors awarded by or on behalf of the SABC. The proclamation further authorised the SIU to investigate allegations of:

  • Serious maladministration in connection with the affairs of the SABC;
  • Improper or unlawful conduct by board members, officials or employees of the SABC;
  • Unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money or property;
  • Unlawful, irregular or unapproved acquisitive act, transaction, measure or practice having a bearing upon State property;
  • Intentional or negligent loss of public money or damage to public property; and
  • Unlawful or improper conduct by any person, which has caused or may cause serious harm to the interests of the public or any category thereof.

Minister Kubayi said: “The SIU has already commenced its work and in fact, I am informed that they have been allocated an office at the SABC. “Once the investigation is complete, it is only then that the truth will be known.

It must be noted that government has sufficient institutions in the country, such as the Hawks and Assets Forfeiture Unit, to deal with all alleged misconduct and it is not up to the Minister to predetermine the outcome of the investigation.”

Now read: This is what a Zuma ministry looks like[1]

References

  1. ^ This is what a Zuma ministry looks like (mybroadband.co.za)