Vodacom has responded to the release of the Data Service Market Inquiry by the Competition Commission on 2 December 2019.
The Commission found that MTN and Vodacom must both reduce their data prices as well as provide free lifeline data to all prepaid customers.
The network operator said that it is reviewing both ICASA’s recently-issued discussion document as well as the new report, and would provide detailed feedback in future.
“Vodacom notes the release by the Competition Commission of its Data Services Market Inquiry Final report earlier today and ICASA’s discussion document on the Market Inquiry into mobile broadband services in South Africa published on Friday,” the mobile operator said.
“While Vodacom is currently reviewing the two documents in greater detail, it is immediately evident that there is a significant difference in opinion between the Competition Commission and ICASA on a number of issues that are critical to data prices in South Africa.”
This difference of opinion is most apparent when looking at mobile data prices in South Africa as well as the allocation of spectrum to local mobile operators.
Commission vs ICASA
Regarding mobile data prices, ICASA states: “South Africa’s prices are neither extremely high nor very low in relation to other African countries or compared to countries which are more similar to South Africa in terms of their size and level of development.”
“When put in further context with data on speeds and LTE coverage, it is clear that customers in South Africa are benefiting from a much higher quality of access than those in other African countries.”
On the other hand, the Competition Commission argues that “South Africa currently performs poorly relative to other countries with prices generally on the more expensive end”.
Vodacom said that the Commission has downplayed the role of spectrum in reducing data prices, while ICASA is aware of its role in achieving cheap and high-quality mobile broadband.
“Vodacom has consistently stated that delayed spectrum allocation has impacted the rate at which data prices could have fallen,” the network told MyBroadband. “Vodacom has reduced the effective price of data by circa 50% since March 2016.”
“Vodacom will respond to ICASA’s Market Inquiry discussion document within the specified timeframe,” it said.
“With regard to the Competition Commission report, we will engage with the Commissioner on the matters that arose in the report and will comment further in due course.”