JOHANNESBURG – The ANC in Parliament supports the campaign to reduce the cost of communication by mobile operators, saying this had negative effects on economic growth and made conducting business unaffordable.
The #DataMustFall campaign was spearheaded by popular radio personality, Thabo Molefe, or DJ Tbo Touch, who asked that data and call costs be slashed in half, also giving cellphone networks a 30-day ultimatum to make changes. Molefe last week made his submission to the parliamentary portfolio committee on telecommunications and postal services during two days of public hearings, arguing that data and call prices were very high and not affordable in South Africa.
In a statement, ANC parliamentary caucus spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said South Africa’s mobile operators were amongst the most expensive in the world, and that the runaway data cost increases had seen an upsurge in complaints from the public. “The unadulterated greed of these mobile operators, who are unashamedly abusing their market dominance by sucking consumers dry with unjustifiably high prices for calls and data, cannot be allowed to continue,” Mothapo said.
The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services acting director-general, Joe Mjwara, last week said mobile operators were abusing their market dominance by charging consumers high prices for calls and data.
However, South Africa’s mobile operators denied their call and data prices were unaffordable, with Vodacom saying call prices had dropped an effective 48% over the last three years while data prices have dropped by over 50% over the same period.
Network operators tried unsuccessfully to lobby Parliament earlier this year to regulate over-the-top (OTT) services to further maximise their profits and eliminate any competition in the sector, adding that the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) must act swiftly to ensure that affordable cost of data in South Africa was realised.
“Parliament has ensured that mobile termination rates are drastically decreased; the same will be done with the data costs to save South Africans from greedy operators,” Mothapo said.
– African News Agency