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Icasa inquiry plans to slash data costs

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Johannesburg - The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) will hold an inquiry to try and reduce the country's high data costs.

The inquiry will consist of four phases: a market study, discussion document, public hearings, and findings document, Icasa spokesperson Paseka Maleka said in a statement on Monday.

"The purpose of the market study and inquiry is to identify relevant wholesale and retail markets (which may include broadband markets) in the electronic communications sector that Icasa will prioritise for future market review in terms of section 67(4) of the Electronic Communications Act."

At each stage of the inquiry, interested parties will have at least 45 working days to submit their responses or comments. The period for submission of comments may be extended if Icasa considered it necessary and appropriate. 

The inquiry would be completed by March 2018.

High data prices led to public outrage, generating hashtags such as #DataMustFall, #VodacomIsTrash and #MTNisTrash earlier in 2017.

Vodacom said it would support Icasa’s inquiry. The cellular network had invested over R26bn in network infrastructure over the past three years. As a result, the average price its customers paid had declined by 44%, company spokesperson Byron Kennedy said.

READ: Who is SA's fastest network?

"Without this consistent investment, customers will experience significantly slower download speeds and weaker coverage, particularly at a time when demand for data continues to grow in South Africa," he said.

Telkom and Vodacom both introduced cost-effective data packages. MTN introduced 500MB of free Twitter access per day for users earlier this year.

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