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Deadline extended for Vodacom and MTN deal on cheaper data prices

The Competition Commission has extended the deadline for network providers to reduce mobile data.
The Competition Commission has extended the deadline for network providers to reduce mobile data.
Image: 123RF/Andriy Popov

Network operators MTN and Vodacom – which control about 70% of the country’s mobile industry – have been given another month to come up with a deal with the SA Competition Commission.

In December, the commission released the Data Services Market Inquiry final report.

The report recommended that two mobile network operators, Vodacom and MTN, reach agreement within two months with the commission to reduce data prices, particularly for monthly bundles, and to address the structure of data pricing, reducing the cost per MB for smaller sub-1GB bundles relative to the 1GB price.

The report also recommended that these operators reach agreement with the commission on other “pro-poor measures” within three months, and these included free data and zero rating of public benefit organisations.

On Sunday, the commission said in a statement it has separately had “productive engagements” with the two operators, as well as other affected mobile network operators.

“Given that the engagements with the operators are at an advanced stage, the commission has decided to extend the two-month deadline by one month to allow sufficient time to conclude these engagements,” it said.

Trade and industry minister Ebrahim Patel, speaking when the report was released, 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 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.

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