No justification for high data rate, Parliament told

Icasa's Leweng Mphahlele says there's no reason why it should be more expensive to connect to the internet if a customer is not using a large data bundle.

A Vodacom store in Johannesburg. Image: EWN

CAPE TOWN - Communications regulator Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has told Parliament mobile service operators have no justification for charging customers high out-of-bundle data rates.

The authority and members of Parliament (MPs) agree the price of data is unaffordable for many and it's even more expensive for people who do not buy large data bundles, many of whom are low-income earners.

Out-of-bundle rates are at least 50% higher than in-bundle rates, which means the current regime benefits wealthier customers.

Icasa's Leweng Mphahlele says there's no reason why it should be more expensive to connect to the internet if a customer is not using a large data bundle.

He argues there's no basis for the price escalation.

“The cost of providing in bundle and out-of-bundle rate, there is no difference. So operators incur the same cost.”

MPs have heard Vodacom is the most expensive of the mobile operators.

The company's out-of-bundle rate is R2 per megabyte.

MTN and Cell C charge 99 cents and R1.10 cents respectively.

(Edited by Zinhle Nkosi)