South Africa’s mobile data prices came under the spotlight in Parliamentary hearings recently, with #DataMustFall campaigners calling on Vodacom and MTN to cut their tariffs.
Speakers in favour of price cuts argued that South Africa’s prices are higher than many other countries and that local consumers cannot afford high-end data services.
Vodacom and MTN responded, stating that rolling out a high-speed data network is costly. The situation is exacerbated by the weak rand and a lack of spectrum.
MTN said the weak rand means the cost of its network equipment – which is imported and paid for in US dollars – has increased by 40% in recent times.
MTN and Vodacom further pointed out that a lack of spectrum means they have to build denser radio networks to increase their capacity.
This means more towers, which increases the overall cost to provide broadband services to consumers.
Vodacom said the following will help mobile operators reduce data prices:
- Provide mobile operators with additional spectrum.
- Make it easier for operators to roll out network infrastructure like cellular towers and fibre networks.
- Better regulation of the sector, with evidence-based decision making and improved licence fees.