SA has a 'right' to cheap data

2014-03-20 12:00
Lower data cost should be a priority in SA so that more people have access to the internet. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Lower data cost should be a priority in SA so that more people have access to the internet. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Cape Town - Data cost remains a barrier to many South Africans accessing the internet and reducing that cost should be the priority, an industry insider insists.

"Access to cost-effective data should be a basic right to consumers, not a luxury," said Kevin Hurwitz, CEO of South Africa.

Despite SA having the potential of six million cable broadband connections, there are only around 800 000 ADSL subscribers. Most South Africans who access the internet, do so on mobile phones.

World Wide Worx revealed that 90% of the 6.4 million South Africans who access the internet in SA rely solely on an internet connection on their mobile phones.

According to the Mobility 2014 research study, also conducted by World Wide Worx with the backing of First National Bank, people in the 19 - 24 age group are abandoning spending on voice calls in favour of data.

3G coverage

Vodacom results show that voice declined to 56% of the group's cellphone expense, down around 10% from 2012, while spending on data increased from 17% to 24%.

Data spend, on the other hand increased from 12% to 16%.

"Group data revenue increased 29%, even as we actively reduced data prices. In South Africa as an example, the average price per megabyte came down 16%," Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub told News24.

The government has indicated that the country intended to accelerate mobile broadband delivery in keeping with the National Development Plan to drive 100% broadband in SA by 2020.

"Obviously, we have to move with speed too on spectrum policy. We aim to finalise the Spectrum Policy by March 2014. This includes the issue of high-demand spectrum for broadband, which is linked to digital migration," said Minister of Communications Yunus Carrim at the Southern Africa Telecommunication Networks and Applications Conference.

As the self-imposed deadline looms, Wonga called on political leadership to actively work to reduce the cost of data to consumers.

"We urge regulators, industry bodies and telecommunications service providers to work together to make data more affordable to serve the rights of South African consumers," said Hurwitz.

Part of the delay in allocating spectrum has been linked to the reticence of the public broadcaster to move toward digital terrestrial television. The ideal frequency band for high speed data is currently occupied by analogue TV broadcasts.

The GSMA Sub-Saharan Africa Mobile Economy 2013 report found that 39.3% of South Africans are covered by 3G services, higher than the regional average of 7.6%.

Data access

The GSMA also found that SIM penetration was over 100%, but that the numbers were indicative of a complex mobile ecosystem in the country.

"We've gone behind the headline SIM penetration and looked at unique subscriber penetration. And we found that while SIM penetration on average across Sub-Saharan Africa is about 61%, people have multiple SIM cards - it's 31% on a unique subscriber basis," said Peter Lyons, director of Public Policy Africa Middle East at the GSMA.

Hurwitz said that cellphones have become critical to the development of the country, and it implied that direct action should be taken to facilitate data access.

"The predominant use of mobile phones as a means to access the internet in South Africa points to the simple fact that mobile access to services is the future in the country."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
- News24
Read more on:    gsma  |  wonga  |  vodacom  |  broadband  |  internet

Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


17 photo illusions that look so real

What if they aren’t illusions? What if that dog really has a human foot – then what?


For chic geeks...

It’s THIS easy for someone to steal your ATM pin!
Check out the speed of this robo-cheetah!
New GIF keyboard on iOS for added fun!
Puppy goes crazy over iPad game

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now! - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


There is a tendency to fight against the current today but this will just use up a lot of energy and not get you very far. more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.