Vodacom has reached a settlement with the Competition Commission, and data prices are expected to fall by at least 30%. In addition to bringing their data bundle prices down, the mobile operator has also agreed to provide internet access to the poor. All price reductions will be effective from April 1, 2020.
This decision is a result of demands made by the Competition Commission in December 2019. At the end of last year, MTN and Vodacom were instructed to reduce their costs by 50% and 30% respectively.
In a statement on Tuesday March 10, Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said “The digital economy is not just changing the means of communication but transforming how we live and work, widening the gap between digitally empowered citizens and pushing further into the periphery the digitally marginalized.”
He added that a stable democracy, which is underpinned by economic inclusion, is not possible without digital inclusion.
“The Commission is delighted to announce that it has reached a significant agreement with Vodacom to reduce the costs of data and promote digital inclusion,” he said.
“The key 1GB monthly data bundle will drop from R149 per 1Gigabyte to no more than R99 (including VAT). This represents a 34% price decrease,” he added.
The statement also outlined a variety of services that Vodacom will ensure are zero-rated (free). These include access to all public university, TVET and public school online portals, Wikipedia searches, South African job portals, and more.
They intend to have all zero-rated services – apart from Government websites which are also zero-rated – available via one platform called “ConnectU”.
Not only will Vodacom be dropping their prices, they have also agreed to be more transparent. To do this they will “display the cents/MB for all data bundles” and “enable Prepaid customers to access detailed information on their historic purchases and what their data was used on”. These efforts are aimed at ensuring that consumers are able to make informed decisions about data purchases.