by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – THE Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) argues it is a challenge for mobile operators to lower the cost to communicate, at a time operators were deploying expensive back-up power amid load shedding.
ISPA therefore believes the government’s concern about the lowering the tariffs must take into account the impact of the energy supply constraint national disaster on the cost of providing connectivity and internet access services.
“Lowering voice and data costs is challenging with the continued implementation of the upper stages of load shedding. An erratic electricity supply is anathema to running state-of-the-art communications networks,” said ISPA’s Dominic Cull.
“If the new Minister of Communications would like voice and data costs to drop faster, the country’s communications infrastructure providers should not be spending millions of rands a day on generator fuel, alternative power sources and base station security,” Cull said.
ISPA has wished new Minister of Communications and Digital Technologies, Mondli Gungubele, well but the non-profit industry association is concerned about the previous incumbent’s pronouncements regarding the ministry’s intention to issue a policy direction to Independent Communications Authority of South Africa.
This is to conduct a study on other jurisdictions regarding lowering the cost to communicate, independently of market forces.
ISPA argues market forces have, in fact, substantially reduced South Africa’s cost to communicate since the days of the Telkom monopoly.
It believes the country’s privately-run ICT sector is doing well even while being constrained by the publicly-run energy sector.
Meanwhile, ISPA noted that as competition in the provision of mobile voice and data services is exploding after the spectrum auction in 2022, costs will reduce in the short term.
This is in line with ISPA’s legal, regulatory and other pro-competition interventions over the years.
“This is the most material intervention towards reducing the cost to communicate in over a decade,” concluded Cull.
– CAJ News