Johannesburg - Mobile network Vodacom says its data prices have fallen by 15.4% over the last year, according to the company’s latest trading update for the quarter ended December 31 2016.
“As part of our effort to continuously reduce the cost to communicate in South Africa through our bundle pricing strategy, voice and data prices fell by 17.6% and 15.4% respectively as significantly more prepaid and contract customers benefitted from using bundles,” said Vodacom.
“Over the past four years we have reduced the price of data by more than 60%. Another significant win in helping bridge the digital divide was the introduction of a 4G device below the key R1 000 price-point to add to the success of the Smart Kicka 2, a low-priced yet high quality 3G smartphone,” said Vodacom.
Vodacom’s mention of falling data prices comes after the #DataMustFall trend went viral on social media late last year.
The hashtag was driven by radio personality Thabo “Tbo Touch” Molefe who said that South Africa’s data prices are “daylight robbery” and that data must fall.
Stakeholders ranging from government, mobile networks, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) and the public gave their input at the hearings.The social media trend resulted in Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Telecommunications and Postal Services holding a two-day hearing on South Africa’s mobile data costs last year.
While Vodacom on Wednesday said it has moved to reduce data prices, the company said that barriers still exist for the broader rollout of broadband.
“The unavailability of spectrum, further delayed by the publication of the White Paper by the Ministry of Telecommunications and Postal Services in October last year, remains a concern,” said Vodacom.
“We have been involved in a number of positive engagements with relevant industry stakeholders as we seek to find a workable solution to make broadband even more accessible and affordable for South Africans,” said the company.
Greater data drive
Meanwhile, Vodacom further said it had extended its 4G coverage to 70% of the population and its 3G network to 99% of the population.
The company also said that data is increasingly becoming a greater part of its revenue mix with traffic growth of 44.8% in South Africa.
A year ago, data comprised 35.3% of Vodacom’s service revenue, but this percentage figure has since jumped to 40.8%.
The company reported on Wednesday that South Africa’s overall service revenue grew 5.5% to R13.4bn, driven by strong data revenue growth of 22%.