In the coming months the Minister of Communications could decide to put people first and force the price of data to fall. Or mobile networks could get their way and get their greedy hands on our spectrum, with no guarantee they will stop charging a poverty premium.
Data Must Fall is back in the spotlight. The Minister of Communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, has announced the issuing of policy on high demand spectrum. Spectrum is the airwaves our cellphones use to send information, which are regulated by ICASA. She also announced that the spectrum licensing process will include measures to promote competition, transformation, inclusive growth of the sector and access for all .
The mobile networks have been demanding spectrum for a long time, they claim getting it will help lower data prices. But we cannot trust that this will lead to lower prices for low income consumers, given how once they get their greedy hands on spectrum, we will not be able to control or regulate what they do with it.
Right now, we have a unique chance to force the networks to give us affordable data prices immediately. But to do this, we need to put pressure on the Minister to demand that all networks who want access to our airwaves must voluntarily commit to stop price discrimination. And if the networks refuse to do this, the Minister must put in place regulations and legislation that will deny them access to the spectrum they want so much until they stop overcharging low income consumers.
Dear Minister of Communications, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams,
We, the undersigned, call on you to ensure that the spectrum licensing process requires that all mobile networks who want spectrum must voluntarily commit to ensure a limit in price difference between what wealthy and low-income consumers pay as recommended by the Competition Commission .
If the mobile networks refuse to do this , we demand that you must put in place regulations and legislation that will deny them access to spectrum until they stop charging us “a poverty premium” on mobile data.
 Communications department publishes spectrum policy, Staff Writer for BusinessTech July 26 2019
 See Competition Commission Statement 02 August 2019: http://www.compcom.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/COMMISSION-WELCOMES-THE-POLICY-DIRECTIVE-ON-SPECTRUM-LICENSING.pdf