MTN, Vodacom, Telkom and Cell C must offer free daily data: Competition Commission

The Competition Commission has released its final report on data prices, showing that South Africans are paying more than they should for access to the internet.

In its report, the Commission called the high price of data ‘anti-poor’ and noted that networks such as MTN and Vodacom offer lower prices in the other African countries they operate in.

To combat these issues, the Commission said that all networks should offer all prepaid subscribers a ‘lifeline package’ of daily free data to ensure all citizens have data access on a continual basis, regardless of income levels.

The precise level of lifeline data and any annual adjustments should be determined in consultation with industry, Icasa and relevant experts.

The Commission is of the view that it should be sufficient to ensure each citizen’s participation in the online economy and society.

It added that Vodacom and MTN must independently reach an agreement with it on ‘substantial and immediate reductions on tariff levels’ within the next two months. It added that preliminary evidence suggests that there is scope for price reductions in the region of 30% to 50%.

It also called for the two operators to reduce the cost of all sub-500MB 30-day prepaid data bundles as well as the ‘cessation of partitioning strategies that contribute to anti-poor pricing and/or inferior service’.

Other major findings include:

  • All mobile operators must reach agreement within three months to zero-rate content from public benefit organisations and educational institutions to ensure broad application;
  • All mobile operators must inform each subscriber, on a monthly basis, of the effective price for all data consumed by the customer;
  • Telkom Openserve must reach an agreement with the Commission on substantial reductions in the price of IP Connect to remove excessive pricing concerns within two months.

The Commission said that if these recommendations are not met within the specified time frames it will proceed with prosecution.

You can view the summary below:

Data Market Inquiry by BusinessTech on Scribd

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MTN, Vodacom, Telkom and Cell C must offer free daily data: Competition Commission