SA data prices 'too high and anti-poor' says Competition Commission
Data prices in South Africa are higher than they should be and are anti-poor, the Competition Commission reported on Monday.
Addressing the media during the release of the commission’s final report on data prices in the country, trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel said it revealed there was a competition problem in the market for data services.
“The prices are higher than they should be and higher than any other markets elsewhere in the world. The profitability levels are high, reflecting anti-competitive outcomes. This may be the subject of an excessive-pricing investigation,” he said.
Patel said data prices were discriminating against lower-paid consumers.
“The roaming markets are not working, or not working as well as they should,” Patel said.
He said data prices mattered and were critical to the economy.
“The 21st century is being reshaped by data. If we want to grow the economy, we need to have the lowest possible data prices,” he said.
Patel said when data service prices discriminated against the poor, they went against public policy, which was about inclusion.
A report released by the commission in April found that SA’s mobile giants were exploiting the country’s poor. TimesLIVE reported at the time that Vodacom and MTN were charging more for data in SA than in other countries in which they operated, with the poor hit the hardest.
The report came two years after the commission started its inquiry, after a widespread public outcry about the high cost of data and mobile operators' failure to carry over unused data.