After conducting high-profile public hearings last October, the Competition Commission is readying a provisional report on the data services market in South Africa. It will be released by the end of April, it said on Monday.
The commission will seek submissions on the provisional report and will then engage in further consultations with key stakeholders before completing its assessment, it said.
The inquiry began in August 2017, when the commission said it had reasons to believe there were “features in the sector that prevented, distorted or restricted competition”. It held public hearings last year at which telecommunications operators and other industry role players were invited to provide detailed testimony.
It said it now intends to finalise the inquiry by no later than 31 December 2019, later than originally envisaged. The scope of the inquiry remains unchanged, it said.
When it launched the probe, the commission said the aim was to determine what factors may cause high data prices with a view to ultimately making recommendations that would result in lower prices.
It initiated the inquiry in response to a request from economic development minister Ebrahim Patel.
The main objectives of the inquiry are to:
- Obtain a clear understanding of the data services value chain, including the interaction and commercial relationship between different levels of the value chain and the relationship with other parts of the ICT sector and the broader economy;
- Assess the state of competition in the market at every stage of the value chain for provision of data services in order to identify areas of market power where consumers may be exploited or excluded by firms and to identify any other structural, behavioural or regulatory factors that may influence competition or pricing;
- Benchmark South African data services pricing against those of other countries; and
- Establish whether data supply quality and coverage is adequate by international standards and the country’s developmental needs.
The inquiry has assessed:
- The market structure;
- The general adequacy and impact of the current regulatory regime;
- Strategic behaviour by large fixed and mobile incumbents;
- Costs faced and profits earned by fixed and mobile network operators;
- Current arrangements for sharing of network infrastructure;
- Investment in infrastructure by operators and access to and allocation of spectrum as they relate to data services price and competition concerns; and
- The adequacy of regulation to promote new South African entrants (particularly historically disadvantaged individuals). — © 2019 NewsCentral Media