Right2Know, the organisation behind the campaign against the Protection of State Information Bill (also known as the “Secrecy Bill”), has announced that it will march on Cell C and ICASA to demand a “free basic amount of airtime and data”.
The march is scheduled for 10:00 on Saturday, 6 July 2013, starting from the offices of the Independent Communications Authority (ICASA) in Sandton and moving towards the Cell C offices which are 2-3km from there.
In addition to re-iterating its demands, Right2Know also stated that South Africa has the sixth highest mobile phone charges in the world, and that profiteering by the cellphone companies makes communication expensive for the majority of people.
Right2Know asserted that “cellphone services have been privatised,” adding that the market is dominated by MTN and Vodacom, and they set the terms of trade for the rest of the industry.
The movement also went on to bemoan the fact that airtime and data bundles expire after a month or two rather than 3 years, that there is no transparency in the cost of communications, and that it is nearly impossible to compare the prices of different packages across networks.
Right2Know demanded the following of South Africa’s network operators and ICASA:
- Communications must be universal. Everyone has a right to communications that are available and affordable;
- Everyone should get a free basic amount of airtime and data the same way that we have free basic water and electricity;
- All SMS’s should be free as they cost the operators almost nothing to transmit;
- ICASA must regulate the cost of airtime and data to stop profiteering;
- Pre-paid communication users should not cross subsidise post-paid users;
- SMS and data bundles should not expire if they are unused;
- Cellphone companies must improve the quality of service, including network outages, dropped calls, calls that don’t connect, and data coverage, etc;
- The range of numbers that are free to call (like police and ambulance) should be increased to include our children’s schools, hospitals, etc.