August could see the new release of an additional spectrum that will allow data prices to decrease across the country. Mobile data prices are a regular topic of discussion among South Africans, many of whom believe they are unreasonably high.

They aren’t far off; South Africa is known to have some of the world’s highest data prices, which has led to many unhappy customers across service providers. Introductions such as the WhatsApp bundle have helped with the cost of data, but the cost of the add-on service has increased, making it unaffordable for some. That might all change with the new spectrum set to be released in August as president Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed in his 2019 State Of the Nation Address.

The spectrum refers to the frequency that network operators use in order to transmit information, such as 3G or 4G. All service providers, analogue television signals and GPS transmisions use the same spectrum, which causes the high prices in data. Vodacom is the one of the service providers that uses 4G and 5G frequencies, which is the spectrum that all service providers should be operating on to efficiently lower data prices.

Network operators have been using frequency as a way of explaining why data prices are high in the country. The cost of the spectrum will determine what new data prices will look like, the sale could lead to higher or reduced data prices. “At MTN, we are confident we will be able to introduce further and significant reductions to the cost of data, when we are able to access 4G and 5G spectrum,” Jacqui O’Sullivan, MTN Corporate Affairs Executive, told Business Insider South Africa. The exchange rate and vandalism of cellphone towers are just some of the many contributing factors to the high data prices. The release of an additional frequency will be the first in 14 years.


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