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The #DataMustFall campaign has been one of the biggest SA stories in the past 12 months, as social media users call on mobile networks and service providers to reduce the cost to connect in the country.
Although it’s been embraced by most, the non-profit Free Market Foundation has (predictably) spoken out against the movement in recent months. The organisation has issued numerous press releases, claiming that the #DataMustFall campaign was cherry-picking information, for starters.
The organisation also said that connectivity provided by a company was “not a basic human right” and that reduced pricing would lead to more expensive data costs for others.
Now, the Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) has responded to the Free Market Foundation.
The ISPA has repeated its call to investigate whether there’s “effective” competition in the mobile data arena
“ISPA has noted assertions that calls for the cost of mobile data to fall are misguided and will harm investment and lead to greater cross-subsidisation of some customers by others,” the organisation told Memeburn in response to a query.
“ISPA is not calling for any form of ad hoc regulation: it is calling for the due and proper application of the law in the form of Chapter 10 of the ECA [Electronic Communications Act – ed] to — as a matter of urgency — investigate whether there is effective competition in the market for mobile broadband services and, if there is found not to be, what pro-competitive remedies could be applied to licensees in that market found to have significant market power,” it added.
“The rights of affected licensees in the process are safeguarded by their ability to approach the courts for relief — an option they availed themselves of when Icasa last exercised its powers under Chapter 10 to regulate voice call termination rates.”
ISPA backs mobile data cost reduction
The ISPA’s statement comes a few days after it issued a press release, calling on Icasa to speed things up.
In the release, the service provider representative said Icasa was “dithering by announcing recently that it is embarking on a process to determine which areas to focus on when exercising its powers”.
“The priority market for intervention is obvious and there is no need to waste more time,” said Dominic Cull, ISPA regulatory advisor, in the release. “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 2019/2020.”