South Africans take on Mobile giants in bid to make them lower data prices

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The trending hashtag in South Africa today is #DataMustFall, an online campaign to protest high charges for data that enables users enjoy the internet.

The online campaign will complement the offline protesters, who are matching to the doorsteps of internet giants MTN, Telkom South Africa, Cell C and Vodacom demand that the cost of data and airtime is reduced.

Tuesday’s protest match was organized by the Right 2 Know Gauteng

“These are follow-up actions after service providers failed to act on demands that have been continuously presented to them since R2K initiated the campaign against the high cost of communications in 2013. To date none of the demands have been met,” Biko Mutsaurwa, leader of R2K told IOL news.

“Yet far too many South Africans are deprived of the basic right to communicate because of the ruthless profiteering of the big telecoms companies. High data and airtime prices place this right out of reach of the country’s poor.”

Some of the other demands by the protesters include:

  • Communications must be universal. Everyone has a right to communications that are available and affordable.
  • All SMSes should be free as they cost the operators almost nothing to transmit.
  •   Everyone should get a free basic amount of airtime and data, in the same way as free basic water and electricity.
  •   Icasa must regulate the cost of airtime and data to stop profiteering.
  •   Prepaid communication users should not cross-subsidise post-paid users.
  •   Data bundles should not expire if they are unused.
  • Cellphone companies must improve the quality of service, including network outages, dropped calls, calls that don’t connect and data coverage.
  • The range of numbers that are free to call (like police and ambulance) should be increased to include schools and hospitals.