ANC wants high data prices to tumble by October

Nkenke Kekana outlined ANC plans.
Nkenke Kekana outlined ANC plans.
Image: Russell Roberts

The ANC wants prices of data to fall by October.

It is also pushing for SABC channels, including Parliament TV, to be moved from pay TV platform DStv and be free to air.

These are some of decisions taken at the ANC national executive committee (NEC) lekgotla two weeks ago.

A cabinet lekgotla, which starts today, is expected to discuss decisions taken at the ruling party's gathering in Irene, south of Pretoria.

ANC information and publicity subcommittee chair Nkenke Kekana told Sowetan yesterday that it was now up to service providers to satisfy the demand for cheaper data.

"We considered everything related to data in South Africa. Pre-paid started in SA but pre-paid today is not the cheapest in comparison to other countries. Pre-paid is mainly used by young people and students," he said.

This move comes at a time when consumers are waiting in anticipation of the outcomes of the Competition Commission's inquiry into high data costs. The probe is expected to be finalised by the end of this month.

Kekana said the ANC wanted the government to give a policy directive to Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) on high costs of data by October.

Siya Qoza, the spokesperson for the minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele said: "I do know that the programme to lower data prices is one of our priorities for this year. We are committed to ensuring that we meet this priority."

Kekana said the ANC had also resolved that SABC 1, 2 and 3 channels, as well as the parliamentary channel, be removed from the DStv bouquet.

"We are calling for the review of the 'must carry' policy. Those channels belong to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT)," he said.

The must carry policy, which was passed in 2008, stipulates that all subscription broadcasters with more than 30 channels carry the SABC's free-to-air channels.

Kekana said Parliament TV was watched by a few people.

"You can't watch it if you don't have DStv. We want TV for the masses, not for the elite. If Parliament TV is watched by the majority, it will improve debate. Our ministers must talk to the SABC," he said.

Kekana said TV-owning households will have to switch from analogue transmission (signal received through an aerial) to digital (through a decoder and an aerial).

The deadline for the switchover is June next year.

The ANC has also resolved that the government should consider rolling out free Wi-Fi hotspots throughout SA cities and towns.

"Students are now going to exams, they are using a lot of data to do research. Students and young people use pre-paid data," Kekana added.

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