Data services market inquiry timelines extended

Data services
14 Dec 2020

Recommended timelines for certain recommendations flowing from the Data Services Market Inquiry have been extended.

The trade, industry and competition department announced the extension in Government Gazette 43969.

The Data Services Market Inquiry Final Report was released in December 2019.

The Competition Commission initiated the Inquiry in August 2017.

At the time, the Competition Commission declared that the Inquiry will cover all “relevant players in the value chain who contribute to or influence prices of data services in South Africa.”

High data costs was a key determinant in calling for the Inquiry.

The aim of the Inquiry was to “understand what factors or features of the market(s) and value chain may cause or lead to high prices for data services, and to make recommendations that would result in lower prices for data services.”

In a statement following the release of the report, the trade and industry department indicated that key findings of the Inquiry were that the price of data in South Africa was high compared to many other countries and profitability for mobile network operators (MNOs) in South Africa exceeds that of MNOs in similar markets.

Recommendations outlined in the report include:

  • a proposed reduction in data-prices charged by the telecoms companies, by a third to half of the current rates;
  • reduction on the price differentials on prepaid data that discriminate against low-end, largely poorer users;
  • a minimum package of daily free data for prepaid customers;
  • reduction in roaming prices and MVNO pricing to below the retail prices charged;
  • zero-rating of content for educational and PBO institutions website downloads, to enable access to key information by students and citizens;
  • pricing-transparency provisions to enable consumers to see the real difference between the pricing of different telecoms companies;
  • alternate infrastructure provision such as wifi, with incentives to speed up their rollout;
  • accounting separation between wholesale network and core network and
  • legislative amendments to enable the changes required in the market.

In the latest notice, the department announced that the recommendation for amendments to be introduced to the Electronic Communications Act by the communications and digital technologies department within 12 months is extended to 24 months.

Consequently, the timeframe for the Independent Communications Authority to promulgate new regulations is extended from 18 months to 30 months.

In Gazette 43962, the department published draft standards for comment.

The draft standards were drawn up in terms of the Standards Act.

Draft standards include LED modules for general lighting – safety specifications; acoustics – laboratory measurement of sound insulation of building elements part 5: requirements for test facilities and equipment; iron ores – sampling and sample preparation procedures; lighters – safety specification; iron ores and direct reduced iron – determination of size distribution by sieving; the use and control of fire-fighting equipment part 2: fire hose reels and aboveground hydrants and chemicals used for treatment of water intended for human consumption – copper sulfate.

New standards include guidance for management consultancy services; information and documentation – records management; products used for treatment of water intended for human consumption – powdered activated carbon; overhead lines – requirements and tests for aeolian vibration dampers; gas pressure regulators for inlet pressures up to 100 bar; high-voltage fuses part 1: current-limiting fuses and chemicals used for treatment of water intended for human consumption – hydrogen peroxide.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the portfolio committee on trade and industry announced that candidates nominated by the public for the position of Chairperson of the Board of the National Lotteries Commission will be shortlisted.

The CVs and supporting documents of 41 nominated persons have been submitted to the committee.

The shortlisting process will commence on 26 and 27 January 2021.

“Once this process is completed, the names of the shortlisted candidates will be published for public comment. Thereafter, the committee will proceed with interviews of the shortlisted candidates.”

The plan is to submit recommendations to the trade, industry and competition minister by March 2021.

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(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
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