Cut in data price long overdue

The actions of South African mobile communications companies smacks of corporate greed and possible abuse of pricing regulation, the writer says.
The actions of South African mobile communications companies smacks of corporate greed and possible abuse of pricing regulation, the writer says.
Image: SIPHIWE SIBEKO \ REUTERS

The announcement this week by the Competition Commission that Vodacom will slash data charges by more than 30% gave users, especially the poorest customers, something to enthuse about.

This means from April 1, Vodacom customers will pay R99 for a 1GB a month bundle, which is currently priced at R149.

This amounts to a 34% decrease in the price of the data bundle.

The competition watchdog wants Vodacom and fellow network giant MTN to drop their sky-high data prices by between 30% and 50%.

SA has the highest data prices among Africa's biggest economies and something has to be done. In fact, this is long overdue as customers have suffered far too long.

We therefore welcome the commission's move to call for the slashing of the data prices by Vodacom and MTN as this will benefit the poorest customers who have been complaining emphatically about the high costs of data in SA, berating the two companies for ripping them off.

Their complaints are what caused the commission to launch an inquiry into data costs in the country two years ago.

The findings confirmed that data prices in SA were excessively high and the two companies failed to explain why.

We are baffled why they could not simply explain the prices of their own data.

Their action smacks of corporate greed and possible abuse of pricing regulation.

Customers have been taken for a ride and we are saying enough is enough.

But Vodacom's long-suffering clients should also draw comfort from the fact that the same company, in addition to the more than 30% data price cut, has agreed to offer free access to a wide-range of online forms.

This will include free access to services such as job portals, government and educational websites such as universities and TVET colleges, social media through Facebook Flex, as well as health information and news portals.

MTN should not be let off the hook and we are confident the commission watchdog will show the same verve they displayed in calling Vodacom to order.

Customers deserve better.

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