Vodacom and MTN must drop data prices without being forced to: Minister

The Competition Commission will officially launch an investigation into why data costs are so high across South Africa’s “big four” networks.

According to a report by BusinessDay, economic development minister Ebrahim Patel has confirmed that a market inquiry into the state of competition in the data market and the inquiry’s terms of reference would be announced by 1 September 2017.

The commission will reportedly focus on how South African data prices benchmark internationally, how accessible data services are to the public, and whether the market could be made into a more competitive and inclusive environment.

Patel said in a written reply to a parliamentary question by the DA’s economic development spokesman, Michael Cardo, that much evidence suggested South African data costs were higher than they could be. This constituted an impediment to economic productivity.

As a result, Patel urged data suppliers not to await the inquiry’s outcome but to reduce data costs on their own accord as soon as possible.

Earlier in July, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) also announced that it would be holding an inquiry to determine the priority markets in the electronic communications sector.

According to ICASA, the report would form part of a number of initiatives it is implementing to address the high cost of communication in South Africa, including the cost of data.

This article first appeared on BusinessTech and is used with permission.

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Vodacom and MTN must drop data prices without being forced to: Minister