Data prices must fall: Competition Commission

Network service providers are told to reduce data by up to 50 percent or face prosecution.

JOHANNESBURG - Data prices provided by the country's two biggest network giants Vodacom and MTN are excessively high.

That's the finding of a pricing investigation launched by the Competition Commission.

READ: Competition Commission finds data prices are excessively high

Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel announced the results of the report earlier.

Service providers have two months to reduce it or face prosecution.

That's the warning from the commission.

READ: Lower data prices are coming

Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said a comprehensive study was done showing that South Africans are paying more for data than other countries.

"People who use prepaid are mainly the poor and we have found evidence that data bundles that are sold as prepaid are considerably more expensive than post-paid," Bonakele said.

READ: Why is South Africa still waiting for cheaper data?

"We're saying that there must be a basic package which we call a Lifeline Package of data that should be made available to people for free," he said.

"It will have a huge impact in that it will draw in massive amounts of people into online society."

Vodacom has released a statement, saying it is currently reviewing the two documents in greater detail.

READ: High data cost hampering SA economic development

"It is immediately evident that there is a significant difference in opinion between the Competition Commission and Icasa on a number of issues that are critical to data prices in South Africa," the statement read.

"Vodacom will respond to Icasa’s Market Inquiry discussion document within the specified timeframe.

"With regard to the Competition Commission report, we will engage with the Commissioner on the matters that arose in the report and will comment further in due course.”

Mobile network operators that have been given an ultimatum: Reduce data prices or face prosecution.