The Internet Service Providers’ Association (Ispa), an organisation that represents most of South Africa’s ISPs, has accused communications regulator Icasa of “dithering” over intervening in the mobile market to bring down data prices.
“Instead of getting on with the job of providing financial relief to debt-stressed consumers in a recession, Icasa is dithering by announcing recently that it is embarking on a process to determine which areas to focus on when exercising its powers,” Ispa said in a statement on Friday.
“Icasa says it intends to complete this process by April 2018 and will only look at intervention in specific markets afterwards,” the association said.
Ispa regulatory advisor Dominic Cull said: “The priority market for intervention is obvious and there is no need to waste more time. We have been talking about mobile data affordability for a long time, and what Icasa is proposing means that concrete steps are unlikely to materialise before 2019 or 2020.”
Cull said telecommunications & postal services minister Siyabonga Cwele has already made his position on the matter clear, directing Icasa in March 2016 to “prioritise the commencement and conclusion of an inquiry and the prescription of regulations to ensure effective competition in broadband markets”.
“Some 16 months later, little has been done. Yet, it is clear from the #datamustfall campaign, as well as recent news reports and the constant clamour on social media, that South Africans are deeply concerned about how much they spend on mobile data,” Cull added.
‘Concern will deepen’
“While this concern will deepen as we consume more data as part of our everyday working and social lives, there is an unfortunate lack of urgency on the part of the communications regulator to confront the mobile network operators on this issue… Icasa needs to address this with the urgency it deserves.”
Ispa said in the statement that although research from Statistics South Africa suggests that 87% of South African households use mobile exclusively to communicate, Icasa has “placed intervention in one of the world’s least competitive mobile data spaces on the back burner while it sets out to determine what its priorities should be”.
Icasa has been asked to comment on the Ispa claims. — © 2017 NewsCentral Media