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Thu May 25 18:22:43 SAST 2017

SA vying to have priciest data amongst Brics nations

Roxanne Henderson | 2016-09-30 12:08:26.0
South Africa had the second-highest costs across the three price categories recorded in the study: 1GB‚ 2GB and 3GB. File photo
Image by: Gallo Images/iStockphoto

In the race to provide citizens with the cheapest data deals South Africa is trailing far behind most of its Brics counterparts.

Tariffic‚ a company that helps businesses and individuals reduce their cellphone bills‚ on Friday released its quarterly data package tracker.

Its findings reveal that among the Brics nations - which include Brazil‚ Russia‚ India and China‚ as well as Kenya and Australia - South Africa has the second-most expensive data on average‚ superseded only by Brazil.

The study compared “data only” packages from leading mobile network companies in the other countries with those in South Africa. All figures were rebased against the “Cost of Living index”‚ as simply converting prices in the other countries to rands would not provide comparable results.

One GB of data is most expensive in Brazil‚ followed by South Africa‚ China‚ India‚ Kenya‚ Australia and finally Russia.

South Africa had the second-highest costs across the three price categories recorded in the study: 1GB‚ 2GB and 3GB.

This means South African prices were on average 134% more expensive than costs in Russia‚ the country with the lowest prices in the surveyed group.

Brazil was the most expensive in all three categories.

Tariffic CEO Antony Seeff says a significant contributor to high data bills in South Africa are out-of-bundle spend.

As new technology develops‚ websites and applications are also chowing more data than they had previously.

“Your 1GB of data won't get you as far as it would have a few years ago‚ and you would expect the prices to come down accordingly so that users will‚ at a minimum‚ continue getting the same value for the same price.

“However‚ data prices haven't come down to nearly the same degree over the years‚” said Seeff.

According to research by Research ICT Africa‚ lower income users spend around 20% of their wages on a relatively low amounts of data – around 1GB.

This figure is steep considering that more than half of South Africans believe internet access is a basic human right‚ according to mobile commerce accelerator Upstream’s 2016 Developing Marketers Mobile Commerce report‚ released earlier this month.

Said Seeff: “How can one be expected to pay for accommodation‚ transport‚ food‚ and other living expenses when you are forced to pay 20% of your income on data?”

Communications expert Arthur Goldstuck said the cost of prepaid data in SA was "prohibitively expensive"‚ from R1 to R2 per megabyte.

"For the typical prepaid user‚ this is coming off their airtime‚ and is perceived not only as unaffordable‚ but also as stealing airtime.

"The regulator (Independent Communications Authority of SA) should step in and mandate a ceiling price of 20c to 40c per MB if the operators won’t do it themselves."

– TMG Digital

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