Research from the Link Centre at Wits which was recently conducted for the Right2Know Campaign suggests that poor South Africans do not want free airtime, just access to cheaper services.
In 2013, Right2Know took to the streets to demand that mobile networks offer a free basic amount of airtime and data, similar to the free basic electricity and water services some South Africans receive.
Link Centre said the study was conducted through focus groups composed of participants from low-income and very low-income households in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban.
Low-income households were classified as those which bring in R3,201 to R6,400 per month, while very-low income households earned R3,200 per month and below.
At a presentation in Johannesburg, Luci Abrahams from the Link Centre said this is because people are unsure about the real value they will receive from “free” airtime.
“Most focus group participants expressed the need for affordable, low-cost mobile communications, rather than ‘free airtime’ packages, which in their design often did not meet the needs of these consumer groups,” the research report said.
Abrahams said that one of the suggestions from the focus groups surveyed was that networks offer low-cost voice calls (e.g. 1c per minute) within a “small geographic radius”.