Data prices must come down - Icasa

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Cape Town - The cost of data must come down, acting chairperson of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) Rubben Mohlaloga told Parliament on Wednesday.

The transparency of data costs and the high cost of out of bundle rates for data remains a concern, Mohlaloga told the select committee on communications and public enterprises.

The regulator told the committee that they are going to revise the end user and subscriber charter of the mobile phone industry. 

One of the topics this will address is the expiration of data, with Icasa of the opinion that data shouldn't expire.  

The committee heard that there is no justification for the operators to charge high out of bundle rates, as the operators incur the same costs in providing data, whether in or out of bundle. 

"The authority [Icasa] has noted the public discontent about high data tariffs.

"We do welcome the consumer activism in the sector," said Mohlaloga.

Also read: Icasa steps into #DataMustFall war

Mohlaloga said South Africa's data costs are still higher than neighbouring countries like Malawi, Tanzania, Mozambique and Lesotho, where our operators are also active.

Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Nkagisang Koni said, "Data must totally fall, not be reduced, fall, fall!"

Democratic Alliance MP Jacques Julius said if someone is holding back connectivity, it is hampering economic growth and contributing to inequality.

Chairperson of the standing committee Ellen Prins said, "The people of South Africa are really depending on mobile access. We need to help them to get access, that's why government is serious about bringing the price down."

She said the committee will invite South Africa's mobile operators to present their side to the committee at a later time. 

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