Break up the mobile operators, R2K says - TechCentral

Break up the mobile operators, R2K says

The Competition Commission should force the mobile operators to split themselves into separate wholesale and retail businesses, much the same way Telkom was required to do in 2013, if South Africa is to lower the cost of data communication.

That’s the view of the Right2Know Campaign, which was presenting at a data services market inquiry at the Competition Commission on Wednesday.

R2K said the “high cost” of communication in South Africa is “directly linked to systemic failures of policy and implementation by government, and lack of regulation and competition in the telecommunications industry”.

The non-profit advocacy group said the commission should intervene by forcing the operators to separate their wholesale and retail divisions. It said regulatory bodies need to ensure that data costs are decreased to match the socioeconomic needs of South Africans.

Among other measures R2K wants introduced include regulations that ensure that prepaid users do not cross-subsidise post-paid users; ensuring that data bundles do not expire if they go unused; making SMS a free service as it costs operators “almost nothing to transmit” messages; and recognising airtime and data as a “basic service” like water and electricity so that users get a “basic provision” of free airtime and data.

It also wants regulators to ensure network operators improve quality of service, including network outages, dropped calls, calls that don’t connect and data coverage, and ensure that the range of numbers that are free to call (such as emergency services) should include schools and hospitals.

The hearings continue until Friday, with the CEOs of the four largest mobile operators expected to deliver presentations on Thursday.  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media

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