Vodacom took a step in the right direction when it announced that it would be dropping data prices from the 1st April and this price reduction is only the first one. It is the first network to settle with the Competition Commission rather than face prosecution. This is huge.
Prices of all bundles will significantly drop, for example a 1GB monthly data bundle will go from R149 to R99 and smaller bundles used by low-income consumers will drop even more. And that’s not all, Vodacom will also provide a package of services to low-income consumers which include, 2 daily free SMSes, zero-rating on all government websites and essential services, as well as personalised discounts to prepaid customers in low-income areas. And it happened because of you. Our campaign isn’t over. Can you share this news so we can keep up the momentum?
For years we have been pressuring mobile networks, government and regulators to take action on the high cost of data and the price discrimination that had low-income consumers charged more data than wealthier ones. We kept the pressure up and made huge progress over time.
This settlement is the beginning of a fundamental restructuring of pricing in the sector. The Competition Commission is still negotiating with MTN and Telkom and are expecting to reach a settlement in the next few weeks. And given Vodacom’s price reduction, there’s reason to believe that this will have an impact on other mobile networks also forcing them to drop their prices to remain competitive. But it’s only one step towards stopping the exploitation of consumers by greedy, profiteering networks. There's more work to do to close the other ways in which mobile networks continue to pickpocket the poor.
We didn't give up even after mobile networks tried to use the courts to stall implementing our hardwon ICASA regulations and are fighting their non-compliance. We didn’t give up when they claimed spectrum was the reason for the high data costs, because we knew that even though it’s a problem, there was no justification whatsoever for their anti-poor pricing. This is the power of this community. By coming together and keeping up pressure, we will eventually win the Data Must Fall battle.