WHAT THE FU­TURE OF DATA IN SA LOOKS LIKE

Observer on Saturday - - Analysis & Opinion - How will thp is tt e ce f for you? (Ci­ti­zen­plu­sad­di­tion­al­re­port­byAlecLushaba)

Of the big six large African mar­kets – Egypt, Tan­za­nia, Kenya, Nige­ria, Ghana and South Africa – we are the most ex­pen­sive when it comes to data.

The cheap­est 1GB pack­age be­longs to Egypt, at around R15.55. In com­par­i­son, our cheap­est comes from Telkom at R99 per GB.

The sec­ond most ex­pen­sive? Kenya, at around R64 per GB.

Min­is­ter of Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment Ebrahim Pa­tel, has said; “Big data, search en­gines, com­plex al­go­rithms and so­cial me­dia are the mod­ern util­i­ties that play the role akin to what wa­ter and en­ergy util­i­ties did a cen­tury ago.”

So … why is our data so ex­pen­sive and where does it all go? Icasa’s in­quiryICASA’s

in­quiry

The In­de­pen­dent Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Author­ity of South Africa (ICASA) has launched an of­fi­cial in­quiry into the mat­ter.

Their spokesper­son, Paseka Maleka, has stated that, among a num­ber of causes for the high cost of data in South Africa, lack of com­pe­ti­tion and the spec­trum de­ba­cle are of chief con­cern.

“If we can look into is­sues of al­lo­cat­ing more spec­trum and in­tro­duc­ing more com­pe­ti­tion, of course then the costs may come down,” she says.

In the last cou­ple of years, ICASA has man­aged to re­duce the cost of phone calls to less than 20 cents to in­ter­con­nect a call.

Now, with the grow­ing de­mand for in­ter­net, they’re look­ing into the data prob­lem. Causes on the rise, such as Data Must Fall and the So­cial Me­dia Black­out are ev­i­dence of the pub­lic’s out­rage. They sig­nify just how im­por­tant data has be­come, not just to peo­ple’s daily lives but to our coun­try’s fu­ture.

We need in­no­va­tion to com­pete in any up­com­ing in­dus­trial rev­o­lu­tion, to par­tic­i­pate in 21stcen­tury eco­nomics. A mas­sive driv­ing force be­hind that will be the avail­abil­ity and af­ford­abil­ity of data.

ICASAandtheNa­tion­alCon­sumerCom­mis­sion are set to tackle is­sues in­clud­ing data ex­piry and out-of-bun­dle rates.

They’ve also stated that there is no jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for op­er­a­tors to charge high out-of-bun­dle rates, as the op­er­a­tors in­cur the same costs in pro­vid­ing data, whether in or out of bun­dle.

They hope to have com­pleted this huge in­quiry by March 2018. This will in­clude a mar­ket study, a dis­cus­sion doc­u­ment, pub­lic hear­ings and a find­ings doc­u­ment. The next phase of the project is to have a se­ries of mar­ket re­views. Data dis­ap­pDeatrand­cies­s­ap­pear­ances

Two weeks ago, Vo­da­com cus­tomers woke up to find their air­time and data had mys­te­ri­ously van­ished. We’re not talk­ing about the way it seems to mys­te­ri­ously van­ish af­ter two min­utes of YouTube. We mean en­tirely, and for no good rea­son.

Then Vo­da­com came out and ad­mit­ted that a sys­tem glitch, caused by a con­fig­u­ra­tion change, was the cause of the prob­lem. It promised to re­in­state all the miss­ing data and air­time. In ad­di­tion, by way of apol­ogy, they of­fered all the af­fected cus­tomers a free 500MB bun­dle.

That’s nice of them, but what about all the peo­ple­who­ex­pe­ri­encedthe­sesys­temglitch­es­be­fore? This isn’t the first time our data has pulled a Hou­dini on us.

Be­fore, cus­tomers were told, if you have an is­sue, here’s a tis­sue.

On 21 June, the So­cial Me­dia Black­out rolled out, which we fol­lowed live on Twit­ter, and soon af­ter, Vo­da­com re­sponded.

“We know you out here fam, and we are lis­ten­ing. #WatchThisS­pace some­thing BIG is com­ing.”

Apart from the fact that Vo­da­com now ad­dresses the pub­lic in slang, they also claimed their news would change the game.

Since then, they’ve launched My Meg, which will be run­ning un­til the end of Septem­ber. With My Meg, Vo­da­com cus­tomers are given up to 1GB free data every day to use on cer­tain apps. Mon­day is for Face­book, Tues­day for Takealot or Pin­ter­est, Wed­nes­day for Gam­ing, etc.

In the mean­time, Cell C has launched a num­ber of com­pet­i­tive sub­scrip­tion pack­ages to ri­val Telkom’s FreeMe bun­dles. Is change isI­soc n

htahn gweaoyn? the way?

e

In Au­gust, Icasa pub­lished a no­tice stat­ing its in­ten­tion to amend the end-user and sub­scriber service char­ter reg­u­la­tions. The amend­ments would see the fol­low­ing: Smaller data bun­dles re­main­ing valid for longer and large bun­dles re­main­ing valid for longer still;

End-users must also be pro­vided with an op­tion to roll over un­used data be­fore the ex­piry date. See the pro­posed ex­piry pe­ri­ods for data bun­dles in the table be­low;

Op­er­a­tors must pro­vide a way for end users to opt in and out of out-of-bun­dle charges when their data bun­dle is de­pleted, and not be de­faulted au­to­mat­i­cally to out-of-bun­dle data charges;

They must also en­sure that end users are sent data-de­ple­tion no­ti­fi­ca­tions at reg­u­lar in­ter­vals – at 50 per cent, 75 per cent, 90 per cent and 100 per cent de­ple­tion. 1-50MB 10 days 50-500MB 30 days 500MB-1GB 60 days 1-5GB 90 days 5-10GB 180 days 10-20GB 12 months 20GB and more 24 months

If in­tro­duced, these reg­u­la­tions will cer­tainly have an ef­fect on the busi­ness mod­els of our Big Four service providers.

In Swazi­land the cheap­est data is with Swazi Mo­bile at E195 for 1GB, whilst Swazi MTN of­fers 1GB at E230 for Wow Bun­dles whilst Stan­dard Bun­dles cost E314 for 1.2GB.

NB: In­ter­ested par­ties have un­til Septem­ber 19 to com­ment on the pro­posed reg­u­la­tions.

For now, Vo­da­com, MTN, Cell C and Telkom have all gone on record to say they have re­ceived the draft reg­u­la­tions, are in the process of study­ing them and are com­mit­ted to ad­dress­ing the prob­lems.

Vo­da­com and MTN have both stated that data doesn’t gen­er­ally dis­ap­pear.

Our new smart­phones just use a lot more of it, and faster. High-def­i­ni­tion videos, au­to­matic sys­tem up­dates and data traf­fic all con­trib­ute to this, with­out us know­ing.

While not likely, it has also been sug­gested that some com­plainants may have been vic­tim to their SIM card be­ing hi­jacked.

They will sub­mit their com­ments on the draft reg­u­la­tions, they say, be­fore the dead­line.

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