SA data prices 'daylight robbery' - TechCentral

SA data prices ‘daylight robbery’


Thabo Molefe aka Tbo Touch

The country’s data prices are “daylight robbery” and need to be halved, radio personality Thabo “Tbo Touch” Molefe told MPs on Tuesday.

Data did not have to be free, but it had to be affordable, the owner of online radio station Touch Central told parliament’s telecommunications & postal services committee, during public hearings on the cost of communication in the country.

What he and his business partner Gareth Cliff would like to see were students who were not able to make it to class being able to access lessons online, on YouTube, for example.

Textbooks and grant applications were available online, but some young people did not have access to this information as they did not have access to reasonably priced data.

Molefe and Cliff were the last in a long string of presenters on Tuesday. All bemoaned the high cost of data in the country.

Service providers would make their presentations to MPs on Wednesday.

Molefe’s #datamustfall campaign had been in the spotlight for a week, with more than 120m interactions in that time, he told the committee.

Cliff and Molefe insisted their #datamustfall campaign was not hostile towards network providers.

“We are not going to march to any of the networks headquarters. It’s hurting the rich, average, middle income and the poor,” Molefe said.

He called for the price of data to be regulated. As an example, he said one network provider charged R149/GB.

“This is daylight robbery. They know very well it’s possible to cut prices without people in those companies losing jobs.”

He proposed that networks halve their data prices.

“It’s possible, unless they want to still have nice packages and bonuses and go abroad come festive season,” he said.

It was impossible for small business owners, for example, to make free calls between the midnight to 5am “happy hour” or for students to talk to lecturers, he said.

“If networks can afford that, to open up those hours for free, it tells you in their balance sheet how much profit they could afford to give away.”

Molefe said networks in other countries were paying companies like Touch Central to come up with such apps, because increasingly people were using data for more than just social media.

“Networks should be paying us. They know between 6am and 9am, there is a guy who has 1,4m followers on Twitter. All this money goes to networks. They control the streaming between us, the content providers, and our listeners, and we don’t even charge them.”

As a parting short, Molefe urged the committee to be tough on the network providers. “Don’t be nice to them please,” he said.



  1. So, if the networks should be paying Touch Central, why don’t they simply charge them to deliver their content? That’s how markets work. I wonder which ISP they are using that is giving that content to the mobile networks for free.

  2. The system is too well established and the extortionists are 10 steps ahead. The more things change the more they stay the same.

  3. their platform relies on streaming and no one will stream radio if you are being charged a hefty amount for a sound bite.

  4. So long as the “half” will not lead to impaired service quality then bring it on. Its one thing to pay “half” and live with always “off” service than pay “full” and live with always “on” service. Not sure which one “Tbo Touch” would live with.

  5. And this wasn’t built into their business plan/model before they set up the business? Too late to cry now if they didn’t do their research.

  6. True.

    The big bully SA companies are too entrenched… will take ages and only incrementally improve over time as we keep putting pressure on them

    In the interim, they’ll look at another way to milk us while everyone is so focused and distracted by this.

  7. Cell C had a special a while ago, 100Gig, LTE for R999 and valid for a
    full year, no monthly increments expiring. That is 1c per Meg! I don’t
    have a LTE device but on 3G, I am getting very decent speeds as well.
    You do get the odd times that is is a bit slow, but in general I get
    upload speeds between 0.5 and 1.5 Mbps and download speeds between 3.5
    and 5.5 Mbps, on 3G from randomly selected servers both local and
    international on speedtest dot net. Don’t know what it would have looked like on LTE, but if Cell C can afford such a special, why can’t it become the norm?

  8. I am on the 6th or 7th Giga 200 package, 50 Gb day time data + 150 Gb nighttime data, valid for one year. Both Giga 100 and 200 packages, are still available for R 999. I am in a small town, where there is no LTE or Fibre, and it also serves me quite well.

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