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SA authority to investigate data costs

SA authority to investigate data costs

South Africa's Competition Commission will conduct an inquiry into data services in response to a request by the country's Economic Development Minister, who has expressed concerns over high data costs.

Sipho Ngwema, Head of Communications at the Commission says the organsiation initiated the inquiry because it believes there are features in the data services market that prevent, distort or restrict competition within the sector.

"Through the inquiry, the Commission aims to determine what may cause or lead to high data prices with a view to ultimately making recommendations that will result in lower prices for data services."

The Commission says its findings and recommendations will be released after the inquiry is completed at the end of August 2018.

Two months ago, Tembinkosi Bonakele, Head of the Competition Commission told ITWeb Africa that the matter of data pricing is a complex one, although they share the concerns.

"I think as regulators we are increasingly under pressure to do something about communication, particularly data. It is worrisome because of its impact on the economy. I mean if you look at the South African infrastructure, we should have had advantages that are more than many other countries, especially in this continent, that are now ahead of us like Rwanda and Kenya. Part of the problem has been said to be this data (costs)."

A report released in May 2017 by public-interest think-tank Research ICT Africa into the cost of mobile broadband found that Rwanda performs better than Kenya and South Africa, based on the cost of 1GB of data in each country.

Dr Alison Gillwald, Executive Director of Research ICT Africa says liberalisation of the mobile telecommunications markets in Rwanda, which ended the monopoly of MTN in 2006, has ignited competitive strategies in the country due to the entry of Airtel and Millicom/Tigo.

"Competition in the telecommunication industry is one of the main determinants of pricing and innovation. A competitive market is likely to offer low prices, granting the opportunity to connect to members of almost all income brackets and thereby push the country closer to achieving its universal access targets."

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