IT IS A NECESSITY: Data is what connects us to the world
JOHANNESBURG - Initiatives by the Competition Commission and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to reduce the cost to communicate as well as progress with the assignment of spectrum suitable for mobile data services should lead to price relief for South Africans when buying mobile data in 2020, according to a statement by the Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA (Ipsa) yesterday. 

It said the commission would announce progress in its negotiations with mobile operators Vodacom and MTN to reduce their tariffs - especially for prepaid data bundles - on or before March 2. 

At the same time the commission would indicate whether it has successfully reached agreement with all of the mobile operators for the provision of a “lifeline” package of free data for prepaid subscribers. 

“The result is likely to be less price relief than the commission wanted, but more than consumers would otherwise have got,” it said. 

Meanwhile, Ipsa said Icasa’s intervention to stop exorbitant out-of-bundle data charges and require providers to roll over unused data - implemented on March, 1, 2019 - had already reduced the cost to communicate. The communications regulator was busy assessing the impact of the new rules following concerns from consumers that they were not being properly implemented. 

Icasa had published a questionnaire for providers and consumers, requesting simple information on, for example, whether they have received data usage notifications and whether their unused data has been properly rolled over. 

Responses must be submitted to Icasa by 4pm on February 18. Icasa was also investigating levels of competition in the mobile data market, a process only likely to have an impact in 2021. It said this year South Africans were likely to see licensees such as Vodacom and MTN obtaining more spectrum. 

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