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SA data prices 'average' compared to peers

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ICASA says SA's prepaid data bundles are not the most expensive nor cheapest in SADC.
ICASA says SA's prepaid data bundles are not the most expensive nor cheapest in SADC.

South Africa's data prices are pretty average when compared to peers in Southern African Development Community (SADC) and BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries.

This is according to a bi-annual report from the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) on the analysis of tariff notifications submitted for the period 1 July to 31 December 2017. ICASA compared the price of prepaid data bundle prices for 500MB, 1GB and 2GB for SA with SADC and BRICS countries.

"The benchmark findings show South Africa does not have the most expensive prepaid data bundle prices for 500MB, 1GB and 2GB in the SADC region. It is also not the cheapest; however, its prices are below the average price of all the SADC prices across the categories," the report finds.

The mobile data prices were converted into US dollars for the comparison and SA was pretty much right in the middle in either sixth or seventh place out of 15 across all three categories.

Botswana has the highest price for 500MB data bundle in the SADC region. Zimbabwe has the most expensive prices in the highest price category for both 1GB and 2GB data bundles in the SADC region at $30 and $50 respectively.

However, ICASA says "other factors such as mobile network reach/coverage, service quality (ie, speed and latency), technology type (eg, LTE), and the price of the mobile devices were not taken into account" in conducting the analysis. It breaks bundle prices down per country on a cheapest, average and highest price basis for each.

SADC prices for 500MB prepaid data bundle in USD.
SADC prices for 500MB prepaid data bundle in USD.

In terms of pricing for a 500MB prepaid data bundle, Botswana came out as the most expensive out of the 15 SADC countries, at $26.95, followed by Swaziland where the most expensive 500MB bundle costs $17.24.

Mozambique has the cheapest 500MB bundle in the SADC region, at $0.83, while SA's highest costing 500MB bundle was $7.90. ICASA says Botswana's highest 500MB bundle is therefore 241.1% more expensive than SA's same sized data bundle.

SADC prices for 1GB prepaid data bundle in USD
SADC prices for 1GB prepaid data bundle in USD

Zimbabwe has the most expensive 1GB prepaid data bundles for the average and the highest data price categories at $26.11 and $30 respectively.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has the lowest 1GB bundle across all three categories at $1.29, followed by Mozambique, Tanzania, Malawi and Lesotho as the five cheapest.

SA does not have the lowest priced 1GB data bundles; however, it comes in sixth place in terms of the cheapest 1GB data bundle offered in the country ($4.89) among the 15 countries.

SA's most expensive 1GB of data, priced at $12.04, is lower than that of neighbours Zimbabwe and Swaziland, which are $30 and $20.02 respectively. Lesotho's highest 1GB data bundle price will cost $7.53 and is lower than the SA price by 37.5%.

SADC prices for 2GB prepaid data bundle in USD
SADC prices for 2GB prepaid data bundle in USD

Zimbabwe has the most expensive 2GB data bundle at $50. This is 155.5% higher than SA's highest price for a 2GB data bundle which is $19.57. The Seychelles' 2GB prepaid data bundle is priced at $47.17 across all three categories, making it second most expensive.

The DRC is once again the cheapest for a 2GB bundle at $1.03. Mozambique's average price for a 2GB data bundle is the lowest across the average prices in the SADC region at $3.38. SA's average 2GB bundle costs $14.43.

BRICS buddies

South Africa's data prices were pretty average when compared to its peers in BRICS, with SA coming in third place out of the five countries and usually closest in price to Brazil.

Country

500MB

1GB

2GB

 

Cheapest

Average

Highest

Cheapest

Average

Highest

Cheapest

Average

Highest

China

12.50

28.75

45

25

57.50

90

15.21

70.07

160

Brazil

5.30

6.64

7.98

10.65

10.91

11.18

14.05

14.48

14.90

South Africa

2.63

5.72

7.90

4.89

9.04

12.04

7.15

14.43

19.57

India

1.90

2.18

2.67

1.03

2.33

2.78

2.72

4.13

4.61

Russia

1.29

1.29

1.29

2.59

2.59

2.59

4.02

4.08

4.14

Data price comparison for BRICS countries in USD

The benchmark results show China's prepaid average prices for 500MB, 1GB and 2GB packages are significantly higher than the other BRICS countries. China is followed by Brazil, with SA being third, while Russia and India have significantly cheaper average prepaid data bundles.

For a 500MB bundle, China has the highest data prices when looking at highest, lowest and average bundle offerings in the nation, followed by Brazil in second and SA in third place. Russia had the lowest prices at $1.29 in the 500MB data bundles across all three categories. In SA, the cheapest 500MB data bundle costs $2.63, the average is $5.72 and the highest was $7.90. This means SA's data prices are higher than Russia's by 103.9%, 343.4% and 512.4% for the cheapest, average and highest 500MB 30-day data bundles.

In the 1GB data bundle category, India has the lowest prepaid prices in terms of the cheapest category, at $1.03, followed by Russia at $2.59 and SA at $4.89. The cheapest 1GB bundle in Brazil will cost $10.65 while it's $25 in China.

South African average prices for 1GB ($9.04) were 536.1% less than China ($57.50) and 20.7% lower than the average price in Brazil ($10.91). On the other hand, Russia and India's average prices for 1GB were lower by 249% and 288% respectively when compared to South African prices.

In terms of 2GB prepaid data bundles, the cheapest bundle can be found in India for $2.72, followed by Russia at $4.02 with SA once again in third place with the cheapest bundle being $7.15. The average bundle in SA is, however, double the cheapest at $14.43.

The highest 2GB bundle for SA is priced at $19.57, which is 8.18 times lower than China's which is $160. There is also a significant difference of $144.79 between China's cheapest 2GB bundle at $15.21 and the highest at $160. The difference between the cheapest and the highest 2GB 30-day prepaid data bundle in SA is $12.42

ICASA says the benchmarking in the report is part of the comprehensive study the authority has done as part of its regulatory initiatives towards addressing data price concerns raised during the #DataMustFall campaign.

"In addition to the benchmarking, the authority is currently working on various regulatory initiatives to address calls for a reduction in costs to communicate, particularly data prices," it says.

Data price comparison for BRICS countries in USD

The benchmark results show China's prepaid average prices for 500MB, 1GB and 2GB packages are significantly higher than the other BRICS countries. China is followed by Brazil, with SA being third, while Russia and India have significantly cheaper average prepaid data bundles.

For a 500MB bundle, China has the highest data prices when looking at highest, lowest and average bundle offerings in the nation, followed by Brazil in second and SA in third place. Russia had the lowest prices at $1.29 in the 500MB data bundles across all three categories. In SA, the cheapest 500MB data bundle costs $2.63, the average is $5.72 and the highest was $7.90. This means SA's data prices are higher than Russia's by 103.9%, 343.4% and 512.4% for the cheapest, average and highest 500MB 30-day data bundles.

In the 1GB data bundle category, India has the lowest prepaid prices in terms of the cheapest category, at $1.03, followed by Russia at $2.59 and SA at $4.89. The cheapest 1GB bundle in Brazil will cost $10.65 while it's $25 in China.

South African average prices for 1GB ($9.04) were 536.1% less than China ($57.50) and 20.7% lower than the average price in Brazil ($10.91). On the other hand, Russia and India's average prices for 1GB were lower by 249% and 288% respectively when compared to South African prices.

In terms of 2GB prepaid data bundles, the cheapest bundle can be found in India for $2.72, followed by Russia at $4.02 with SA once again in third place with the cheapest bundle being $7.15. The average bundle in SA is, however, double the cheapest at $14.43.

The highest 2GB bundle for SA is priced at $19.57, which is 8.18 times lower than China's which is $160. There is also a significant difference of $144.79 between China's cheapest 2GB bundle at $15.21 and the highest at $160. The difference between the cheapest and the highest 2GB 30-day prepaid data bundle in SA is $12.42

ICASA says the benchmarking in the report is part of the comprehensive study the authority has done as part of its regulatory initiatives towards addressing data price concerns raised during the #DataMustFall campaign.

"In addition to the benchmarking, the authority is currently working on various regulatory initiatives to address calls for a reduction in costs to communicate, particularly data prices," it says.

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