Why South African's pay more for data and fibre

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One of the many truths slammed home by the COVID-19 pandemic has been how essential Internet and mobile connectivity is. This is from circulating news updates about health information on the virus to enabling us to work from home, keep in touch with loved ones and friends, and stay entertained and upbeat in the face of isolation. With working from home set to be the new norm for many, and social distancing expected to remain until at least 2022 – in order to stop the spread and prevent health systems being overwhelmed – connectivity is more crucial than ever.

The United Nations has even declared access to the Internet a basic human right (though it’s at the discretion of an individual country to put it into law). And in South Africa, connectivity is widely recognised as a key accelerator of efforts to release us from the cycle of inequality and poverty, through access to education and jobs. Yet, our country has notoriously had the most expensive Internet access in the world.

Today, there are more than 4,5 billion Internet users (almost 60% of the people on the planet). In December, picodi.com analysed the pricings of 233 of the biggest fibre Internet providers in 62 countries, focusing on those with unlimited residential plans. According to speedtest.net, most countries (55 out of 62) offer the speed of 100 Mbps (megabytes per second), providing for smooth browsing on more than one device at once, and watching streaming services in the highest 4K resolution. 

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