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Vodacom statement on the Competition Commission Data Services Market Inquiry Final report

Monday, 2 December 2019

“Vodacom notes the release by the Competition Commission of its Data Services Market Inquiry Final report earlier today and Icasa’s discussion document on the Market Inquiry into mobile broadband services in South Africa published on Friday.

While Vodacom is currently reviewing the two documents in greater detail, it is immediately evident that there is a significant difference in opinion between the Competition Commission and Icasa on a number of issues that are critical to data prices in South Africa.

In particular, Icasa concludes from its analysis of international mobile data prices that “South Africa’s prices are neither extremely high nor very low in relation to other African countries or compared to countries which are more similar to South Africa in terms of their size and level of development. When put in further context with data on speeds and LTE coverage, it is clear that customers in South Africa are benefiting from a much higher quality of access than those in other African countries.”

On the other hand, the Competition Commission states: “South Africa currently performs poorly relative to other countries with prices generally on the more expensive end.”

Another area where there is a significant difference in opinion pertains to the impact of the continuous delays in allocating available spectrum.

Icasa says there are “a number of reasons why spectrum assignment is critical to achieving cheap, high quality mobile broadband,” whereas the Competition Commission has downplayed the role of spectrum in reducing data prices.

Vodacom has consistently stated that delayed spectrum allocation has impacted the rate at which data prices could have fallen. Vodacom has reduced the effective price of data by circa 50% since March 2016.

Vodacom will respond to Icasa’s Market Inquiry discussion document within the specified timeframe. With regard to the Competition Commission report, we will engage with the Commissioner on the matters that arose in the report and will comment further in due course.”

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