South Africans protest the high data and airtime costs… Again!
A group of South Africans lead by civil society Right2Know picketed outside the offices of South Africa’s major cellular network providers around Gauteng on Tuesday. They were demanding that the costs of mobile data be cut down to give South Africans affordable access to internet services.
Picketing took place outside Cell C’s head office in Sandton, MTN’s head office in Randburg, Vodacom in Midrand and Telkom in Centurion. The picketers carried a list of demands and among them was that companies do away with expiring airtime and data, free SMSes, a free ration of airtime and that Icasa regulate airtime costs across all networks.
Also read: Regulations on the expiry of data bundles expected by end October
Right2Know say they first tabled these demands but network providers have since not met them.
They had an ally in the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) and spokesperson Patrick Craven accused the mobile network of overcharging consumers.
“It is becoming cheaper and cheaper to provide the services. As a result, telecommunication is regarded, correctly in our view, as a fundamental right,” he said.
Vodacom’s Themba Kinana responded to these demands on behalf of the network provider, saying that they are putting measures to lower the cost of data.
“Over the past few years, Vodacom has invested R26bn in the infrastructure and new technologies. We do this so our customers enjoy the widest range in terms of 2, 3 and 4g coverage and vastly increased data speed,” he said
South Africa is second only to Brazil amongst BRICS nations when it comes to data prices according to research done by research company Tarrific September last year.
“Data prices for South Africa were on average 134% more expensive than the cheapest prices in the group,” Tarrific said
Also read: South Africa’s mobile data prices to be cut down… soon