By Ndileka Swakamisa
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) says there is a reason for the country’s high data costs. Icasa is to launch an inquiry into the high cost of data, with South Africa’s data costs among the highest in the world.
“There’s a number of issues why the cost of data is still high,” said Icasa spokesperson Paseka Maleka. “If I were to give an example of other African countries, the spectrum has been allocated to most network operators; in South Africa we’re still battling in terms of licensing spectrum.
“If we can look into issues of allocating more spectrum and introducing more competition, of course then the costs may come down. You saw in the past couple of years Icasa reduced the cost of voice very significantly. Right now we’re talking about less than 20 cents to interconnect a call. “Now the times have changed, data is there and there’s a growing demand. We need to look into the issue.”
Maleka says there are other initiatives that Icasa is engaged on in reducing the high costs of data. A joint task team between Icasa and the National Consumer Commission to look into issues of expiry of data and out of bundle rates as well as engaging with network operators.
Icasa is hoping to complete its inquiry into high data costs by March next year. “What we’re doing in the first phase of the project is to collate as much data as possible,” said Maleka.
“If you look at the questionnaire that is out there, its tailor made for network operators because it’s asking about the products, services, transmission services it’s tailor made for them and the pricing structure as well, so that we know exactly how much they’re charging etc.
“We still collating that data and once that’s done we going to have a discussion document and something that we also need to clarify out there is that if you look at the questionnaire it’s tailor made for network operators.
“Members of the public will be able to make their submissions in the discussion document. It’s going to be published immediately after this project so then civil society organisations can make their own submissions.”