25 April 2019

South Africa: Competition Commission - Mobile Data Market Is Anti-Poor

Photo: allafrica.com
Top: #DataMustFall hashtag. Bottom-left: Phone user. Bottom-right: Banknotes.

Mobile data is more expensive in South Africa than comparative countries and the market lacks transparency and is anti-poor, said the Competition Commission on Wednesday.

The local market for mobile data services is skewed against low-income earners who are effectively charged more by network operators and have little access to Wi-Fi alternatives, the Competition Commission argues in its provisional report on the Data Services Market Inquiry.

The report says the data market includes "anti-poor pricing structures" as prepaid costs are significantly higher than postpaid deals and consumers are charged more for smaller bundles of data.

Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele released the provisional report in Pretoria on Wednesday 24 April 2019. The Data Services Market Inquiry was launched in 2017 after the #DataMustFall campaign called for reduced data costs.

"An assessment of headline retail prices of all mobile operators demonstrates that consumers of small data bundles, generally being poorer consumers, pay inexplicably more on a per MB/GB basis," reads the report.

"For instance, relative to a 1GB data bundle, a consumer buying a 100MB data bundle will pay roughly twice the price on a per MB basis for the same data-period validity. A consumer buying a 50MB bundle will pay up...

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