The fight against the high costs of data in the country has reached parliament, with radio personality Tbo Touch (real name Thabo Molefe) stating his case for data costs to be capped before parliamentarians on Tuesday.
Supported by business partner Gareth Cliff, Molefe told the committee on telecommunications and postal services the high costs of data charged by mobile networks were close to “daylight robbery” and maintained that network service providers had nothing to lose by heeding the public call for data prices to fall.
He said his #DataMustFall campaign has gained much momentum over the past week and has had more than 120 million interactions online.
In June this year, he resigned from Metro FM as the station’s drive-time show host to start his own digital radio show Touch Central FM.
“The biggest challenge Touch Central faces is the very high data prices attached to its operation and accessibility to its audience. A majority of South Africans cannot afford to listen to Touch Central because they need to stream it live from the internet.
“The citizens of South Africa have asked Touch Central to stand against the high data rates of SA and to pursue a more affordable resolution to gain internet access at an affordable rate,” Molefe said in his presentation to MPs.
“It’s an honour this house recognises our cause. These are some of challenges that SMMEs are faced with. This is also to voice the cries of students out there. Data is as essential as food‚ shelter and clothing‚” he added.
On Wednesday it will be the turn of major network companies to make their submissions to the committee.
Here are the seven key points from Tbo Touch’s submission on data costs:
- Mobile network companies must be held to account for the high costs of data through regulation and other possible means.
- Data does not have to be free, but it has to be affordable.
- Reducing the price of data will enable students to access lessons online and get access to information.
- Citing examples of textbooks and government grants, Touch said the digital revolution has led to applications being made online.
- It’s impossible for small business owners (SMMEs) to make free calls between the midnight to 5am (the “happy hour”) and the general public.
- The #DataMustFall campaign isn’t hostile against major networks or government.
- Networks must halve their data prices.