Data costs must fall, Fin24 users demand

2016-02-17 11:12
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Smartphone data. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

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Cape Town – Data costs have to start falling in South Africa, according to Fin24 users.

Fin24 recently published a story on why South African data prices are not expected to come down soon, and Fin24 users bombarded the site with comments directed at mobile operators.

“Telecommunications companies should reduce their data price. These days, telecommunications companies are more focused on their earnings than actually giving the country and the people of this country the ability to grow in the telecommunications space. We are like mushrooms to them - keep us in the dark and feed us bull stories,” wrote Fin24 user Sergio.

“We are being ripped off. Our suppliers are greedy throttle small time users when you complain they take from Peter to give to Paul they also sell more than they have. Another excuse: It’s peak time and that’s why it’s so slow,” Fin24 user Frank fumed.

“More should be done. Why? Communication is a fundamental tool for business and the country alike. Get this right than we start to move in the right direction in terms of our economy,” wrote Fin24 user Roger.

“The lack of competition and oligopolistic stance the majors have adopted through the concentration and dominance in the market hinders growth and the use of data to help peoples’ lives and facilitate small business.  The industry player’s prime directive is to make money, money for themselves, money for their shareholders and less I forget ‘Look After’ each of their customer bases,” wrote Fin24 user Andrew.

“Competitiveness between rivals is a given but real competition which can impact on their business models is not favoured and when competition in the form of OTTs [over-the-top providers] comes along, all hell breaks loose. Just because they did not come up with these innovations themselves they now try to level the playing fields and seek to kill the competition even though the data used is purchased from these majors. ‘You cannot have your cake and eat it.’”

For Fin24 user Johan, real competition in the mobile industry is vital.

“The mobile arena however lacks the genuine will to take on each other with competitive data packages and as long as it takes for government to keep on dragging their feet in freeing up the necessary bandwidth spectrum for operators to implement any worthwhile deals on the data front, I am afraid even the regulators may find it a fruitless exercise to force anything worthwhile from the operators in question,” he said while also lamenting the monopoly in the fixed line broadband market.

Ultimately, people are concerned about their wallets with many responses expressing frustration at policies where they pay more for access.

“I think we are being ripped off ‘six love’ by the networks especially when you buy a data bundle and it expires after a month and you lose what you have not used.

“How the hell can you lose something you have paid upfront for; the networks need to be looked at by the government they have become a law unto themselves,” wrote Fin24 user Don.

“Regulators should force the networks to reduce the cost of data to enable more accessibility to the masses,” added Fin24 user Suhail.

Fin24 user Telmo said that data costs should be universal.

“How can you charge 18c in-bundle and then whilst still using the same data (which they state they cannot stop and cannot guarantee call limits - but they can work out what to bill) charge R2? What changed in systems; download speed? Yet the price increases 11 times!”

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