The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has insisted that the prices of data offered by telecom operators must fall further as the competition has increased.
This is part of the ongoing Parliament’s telecoms and postal service committee which is holding public hearings on the high cost of mobile and data services in SA. The telecommunications department had requested that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) investigates the matter.
The communications watchdog told South Africa’s Parliament members that data prices have fallen 45% since 2010 and should fall further. Willington Ngwepe, Chief Operations Officer of ICASA, told the committee there had been a huge shift towards data use, resulting in a decline in voice revenue for most operators.
With demand for data on the rise, operators were looking to reduce prices to attract and retain subscribers. “We have seen a decrease in the average that is charged per megabyte as operators compete for customers,” he said.
The regulatory body said that although prices fell in the past five years, the costs were still high for most consumers, More needed to be done to reduce communication costs.
The hashtag #DataMustFall which was trending on Twitter last week is the campaign against high data costs which have gathered momentum in recent days.
According to Research ICT Africa, a regional ICT policy and regulation think-tank, data prices remain expensive. SA’s cheapest rate for 1GB places it at 16th spot among 47 African countries assessed. Tanzania has the cheapest 1GB, at $0.89 versus SA’s $5.26. Egypt, Kenya and Nigeria all have cheaper data prices than SA.