Data may fall as Icasa mulls regulating prices

11 September 2018 - 16:22 By Reuters
A wall decoration at the Internet Security Conference 2018 in Beijing, China last week .
A wall decoration at the Internet Security Conference 2018 in Beijing, China last week .
Image: Jason Lee/Reuters

Icasa is considering regulating the price of internet data, the chief executive of the telecoms watchdog said on Tuesday, as part of efforts to bring costs down and shore up the ailing economy.

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa's chief executive Willington Ngwepe's comments come after complaints from consumers about the cost of data in Africa's most advanced economy.

Ngwepe said Icasa will later this month launch a market inquiry, which is likely to be take between eight and 18 months. The inquiry is expected to help the regulator work out how and which features in the industry need to be regulated.

"What we're going to be doing specifically is to look at regulating the price of data," Ngwepe said on the sidelines of a telecoms conference in Durban. "But that's going to a process that will not happen overnight."

A 2016 World Bank report found that South Africans paid around $14.10 (R213) for one gigabyte of data, the fourth highest out of 17 African countries.

Five main companies dominate South Africa’s wireless broadband market, including MTN and Vodacom, which control about 70 percent of the market. Telkom also operates data services.

Analysts say the small pool of service providers has hampered competition.

Ngwepe also said he expected the licensing of new radio spectrum by at least April next year.

President Cyril Ramaphosa told the telecoms conference on Monday that government will accelerate the licensing of delayed radio frequency spectrum to mobile operators. 


X