Icasa: High data price to be addressed in revised regulations

Icasa is concerned that many people cannot afford to access the internet because of the prevailing tariff regime.

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CAPE TOWN - The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has told Parliament the high price of data will be addressed in revised regulations meant to protect the rights of consumers.

Icasa is concerned that many people cannot afford to access the internet because of the prevailing tariff regime.

Officials briefed Parliament's Select Committee on Communications and Public Enterprises on Wednesday on the cost to communicate.

Out-of-bundle rates are at least 50% higher than in-bundle rates, which disadvantages low-income earners and benefits wealthier customers.

Icasa’s Leweng Mphahlele says there’s no justification for charging customers high out-of-bundle rates because mobile operators incur the same costs regardless of whether the data is in a large prepaid package or not.

“Icasa believes that these rates are, especially the out-of-bundle rates, exorbitant.”

He says the regulator will propose measures to address the issue in its revised “End-user and Subscriber Service Charter.”

Icasa officials say although consumer activism in the sector has been lacking, this trend is changing.

A consumer-driven campaign under the banner “Data Must Fall” gained momentum on social media and Members of Parliament have taken notice.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)