Competition commission inquires into data costs

2018-04-03 06:01

THE National Competitions Commission (NCC) has joined the data must fall bandwagon and will be conducting a market inquiry into data cost, says commissioner Ebrahim Mohamed.

Speaking at a consumer interest seminar recently Mohamed said the commission had noted previous sentiments by the Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel and President Cyril Ramaphosa (at his State of the Nation Address) sentiments on the need for increased competition and lower prices in communications.

Also, Icasa has recently published regulations to improve benefits of consumers of voice and data services.

Mohamed said the NCC would be joining in soon.

“In its deliberations with Icasa on the issue, the NCC was vehemently opposed to consumers not receiving value for money insofar as the amount of data they actually paid for.

“The NCC is opposed to, and will continue to oppose, the practice of forfeiting unused data, which is to the detriment of consumers and only benefits network operators,” said Mohamed. He said while price-fixing impacted the consumer badly, it was also worthy to note that “significant fines” on companies were likely to be passed onto consumers.

“I am certain that authorities all over the world are grappling this issue. I can only urge our competition authorities to be more creative with their penalties and to take into account the issue of double jeopardy for consumers,” said Mohamed.

The seminar was held on World Consumer Rights Day and during his address, the commissioner noted the correlation of both World Consumer Rights Day and Human Rights Day.

He said it was due to the activism of the slain heroes at the Sharpeville massacre that human rights (including consumer rights) have become realised in present day.

“The role of regulating competition in South Africa is crucial to advancing economic inclusivity.

“We all know that we come from a past in which the bulk of our people were excluded from the mainstream economy.

“Competition law must continue to play a role in protecting vulnerable and innocent consumers,” said Mohamed.

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