Pretoria - A #DataMustFall protest is being taken to the doorsteps of all the four network providers on Tuesday.
R2K Gauteng will lead the pickets against the mobile giants’ offices, demanding that action be taken to ensure the cost of data and airtime is affordable to all the people of South Africa.
Biko Mutsaurwa, the R2K communication rights organiser, said: “These are follow-up actions after service providers failed to act on demands that have been continuously presented to them since R2K initiated the campaign against the high cost of communications in 2013. To date none of the demands have been met.”
Mutsaurwa said they remained resolute that the right to communicate, and to receive and impart information and opinions, was central to the right to know.
“Yet far too many South Africans are deprived of the basic right to communicate because of the ruthless profiteering of the big telecoms companies. High data and airtime prices place this right out of reach of the country’s poor.”
South Africa had some of the highest data and airtime costs in the world.
“It is outrageous that in a country where so many struggle to put bread on the table, the telecoms companies are given free rein to rip us off,” R2K said.
Some of the demands include:
* Affordable data and airtime for all South Africans.
* Communications must be universal. Everyone has a right to communications that are available and affordable.
* All SMSes should be free as they cost the operators almost nothing to transmit.
* Everyone should get a free basic amount of airtime and data, in the same way as free basic water and electricity.
* Icasa must regulate the cost of airtime and data to stop profiteering.
* Prepaid communication users should not cross-subsidise post-paid users.
* Data bundles should not expire if they are unused.
* Cellphone companies must improve the quality of service, including network outages, dropped calls, calls that don’t connect and data coverage.
* The range of numbers that are free to call (like police and ambulance) should be increased to include schools and hospitals.