ANC says first steps to lowering data have been made, but more needed

The governing party says government must urgently implement policies that support the #DataMustFall campaign.

In a statement on Friday, the ANC said was encouraged by some mobile operators who had taken the first step to lowering data prices since the popular call for lowing data costs, but there was still a long way to go.

They said the excuse that spectrum had not been freed up fast enough was government’s problem, not the private sector’s.

“This is not enough. The mobile operators must demonstrate goodwill and lower data prices and allow government to resolve the allocation of new spectrum,” the ANC said.

The governing party said the release of international mobile telecommunications services (IMT-Advance) spectrum was expected to resolve most of the constraints experienced by mobile operators and would accelerate the roll-out of broadband networks in rural areas, particularly the wholesale Wireless Open Access Network (WOAN) earmarked in the policy.

“The ANC policy seeks to increase investment and growth in the telecommunications sector. At our recent ANC Lekgotla, we called on government to urgently implement the decision of the 54th National Conference, specifically the need to lower the cost of communications in the country, in particular the cost of data.

“The recent ANC Lekgotla has also resolved that government must urgently issue policy for the allocation of radio frequency spectrum to the WOAN, existing operators and new entrants before the investment summit planned for October this year.”

The ANC said it was concerned about the high cost of data because it negatively impacted on ordinary South Africans, especially workers, young people, students and women.

“As a result of the high costs of data, the majority of our people are unable to enjoy the benefits of the digital economy in our democracy. It further stifles the growth and development of small businesses,” the ANC’s spokesperson, Pule Mabe, said.

“The ANC encourages government to take urgent steps to ensure full implementation of all policies and regulations in support of the #DataMustFall campaign, working together with the regulator (Icasa) and all mobile operators in our country,” Mabe said.

He further called on all relevant stakeholders to take urgent steps to ensure that policies supporting the campaign to lower data costs were implemented.

“We urge the regulator and mobile operators to move swiftly in finding an amicable solution on the disputes surrounding regulations on the Code of Conduct for Electronic Communications Services.”

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