10GB free data for every South African household — when to expect it

South African communications minister, Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, said the government would realise its plan to provide 10GB of free data to every household within the next three years.

The project will be implemented in parallel with the rollout of the SA Connect Revised Model, following the completion of a feasibility study.

This was revealed in Ntshavheni’s written response to parliamentary questions from Zandile Majozi of the Inkatha Freedom Party.

“A specific feasibility study relating to the 10GB data has not been undertaken, however, the SA Connect Phase 2 proposal borrows on the tenets of universal access to basic and essential services (e.g. water, electricity and data being the next step),” Ntshavheni wrote.

Ntshavheni first made the promise of providing 10GB of free data to South African households during a joint State of the Nation debate on Tuesday, 15 February 2022.

“The proposed timeline is in parallel to the roll-out of the SA Connect Revised Model, which is planned to be completed within the next three years starting from 01 April 2022.”

The minister added that the 10GB free data project aims to bridge the digital divide in South Africa.

“Recognising the negative impact of the digital divide, especially in the rural and underserviced areas, the statement relating to the allocation of 10GB is a statement of intent to address this divide,” she wrote.

The minister’s timeline aligns with the deadlines revealed in the National Infrastructure Plan 2050 published by public works minister Patricia de Lille.

The document revealed that the South African government wants to ensure all households have access to 50GB of data each month by the 2025/6 financial year. It set a short-term goal of 10GB by 2023/24.

However, it differs from Ntshavheni’s plan in one crucial aspect — the National Infrastructure Plan only suggests free basic data for low-income users.

Ntshavheni promised that government would provide 10GB of free data to every household in South Africa regardless of income level.

The basic data allocation will be similar to the provision of essential municipal water and electricity services to needy households.

These households are allowed 6,000 litres of water, 50kWh of electricity, and free sewerage and sanitation.

One possible way government could implement this plan is through the broadband fund.

It involves the government seeking partnerships with private companies to achieve its goals together with public money.

Ntshavheni’s department said earlier this year that it had requested funding from the National Treasury to establish the Broadband Fund.

The objective of the fund is to subsidise household connectivity and public Wi-Fi hotspots in low-income households and rural communities nationally, it said.

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10GB free data for every South African household — when to expect it