Cwele: Intervention needed to tackle rising communication costs

Minister Siyabonga Cwele last year asked Icasa to inquire into broadband markets and make regulations to ensure effective competition.

Siyabonga Cwele. Picture: www.gov.za.

JOHANNESBURG – Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele says the Competition Commission might have to investigate the increasing cost of communicating in South Africa.

Cwele last year asked the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to inquire into broadband markets and make regulations to ensure effective competition.

Cwele says Icasa's State of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) report notes that revenue from data rose from R30 billion to R38 billion, while the sector shed 4,000 jobs.

“We are still awaiting concrete intervention from Icasa. The initial response from the regulator suggests that they will finalise this in the next two years. Speed of intervention is critical in a radically evolving sector like the ICT.”

Yet data prices remained high.

“In our view, this may need the intervention of the Competition Commission. However, we appeal to our operators to start competing on services to ensure the cost of data and calls falls to affordable levels, or below 2% of average household income.”

Cwele was delivering his budget vote speech in Parliament.