The ANC’s “perpetual policy bungling” is keeping data prices high, according to the DA’s Marian Shinn.
Shinn said the ANC government’s lack of progress on advancing the country’s telecommunications sector would be “laid bare” during an upcoming hearing into the cost of communications held in Parliament.
“The lack of availability of spectrum for wireless broadband services is the major cause of high prices. The unavailability of spectrum has created an artificial scarcity that has stifled competition needed to drive down prices,” said Shinn.
She said the unavailability of spectrum has two main causes:
- The failure of the government’s programme to migrate from analogue to digital broadcasting.
- The failure of government policy on how to allocate high-demand spectrum.
Telecommunications minister Siyabonga Cwele has instituted court action against Icasa over its recent plan to auction high-demand spectrum to local network operators.
“Making more spectrum available to a diversity of network providers will have a major impact on growth and diversity,” said Shinn.
The United Nations’ definition of “affordable broadband” is that a 500MB allocation of prepaid mobile data should cost no more than 5% of average monthly income, said the DA.
“In South Africa, an affordable Internet connection costs the majority of South Africans anywhere between 6-19% of their monthly income.”