The Internet Service Providers’ Association (Ispa) has called on South Africa’s telecommunications operators to bring down the cost of mobile broadband by introducing wholesale mobile data products that ISPs can resell.
“Ispa argues that the absence of a wholesale mobile data offering constitutes a lost business opportunity for mobile operators and an obstacle to deepening broadband penetration,” the association, which represents most of South Africa’s ISP community, said in a statement.
It believes the mobile market can learn lessons from the fixed-line broadband space, where a wholesale model is well developed and where ISPs have forced down prices through competition.
“Ispa’s argument is strengthened by the way in which efforts to force the regulator to enable competition in the fixed-line broadband space have borne fruit, with strong competition between ISPs driving the price down, leading to better packages for consumers. As a result, uncapped ADSL or large, unshaped capped ADSL accounts have become the standard in the fixed-line broadband market,” it said.
“Opening up the ADSL market to competition has created business opportunities for providers and the consumer has benefited hugely,” said ISPA chair Graham Beneke. “We believe that [communications regulator] Icasa should take the necessary action to enable a simple resale model for mobile data to stimulate the same sort of consumer-friendly competition. It seems like regulatory pressure is necessary to spur the introduction of the necessary wholesale product to create this new market.”
Ispa said that when a genuine wholesale offering is made, such as the one jointly developed between MTN and Afrihost, consumers receive immediate price benefits.
“In South Africa, mobile devices are the primary gateway to the business and social opportunities offered by the Internet,” said Beneke. “High prices for mobile broadband will continue to act as a brake on Internet penetration in the country.
“One only has to look back several years ago to when the BlackBerry uncapped mobile package was first launched. It was instantly popular among South African mobile users, many of whom used the package as the only way they accessed the Web. There is clearly a demand for uncapped mobile data.” — © 2015 NewsCentral Media