New agreement enhances SA access to communication

Cell C head office

Cell C head office

by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) THE finalisation of discussions between Cell C and the Competition Commission over the mobile operator’s voluntary offer to enhance digital participation and connection is the latest breakthrough towards lowering the cost of data in South Africa.

Cell C announced the conclusion of the “constructive” discussions with the commission on Wednesday.

Cell C stated it would by May 1 launch a free lifeline package capped at 250KB per day at a bundle size determined by Cell C, accessible to its pre-paid customer base.

In this regard, Cell C will further enhance its lifeline package to allow for direct messaging to another Cell C customer via Cell C App (and portal).

It will offer five free SMS per customer per day, applicable Cell C to Cell C.

This is in addition to the current seven free ‘Call Me’ per day service.

Cell C will also offer free basics (internet.org) access.

Douglas Craigie Stevenson, Cell C Chief Executive Officer, said the company’s offer was in line with its commitment to digital inclusion, central to the objectives of the Data Services Market Inquiry recommendations.

“It was encouraging that there is alignment with the Commission and Cell C’s drive for a social compact on data prices,” Stevenson stated.

Cell C is South Africa’s third largest operator in a sector that also includes MTN, Telkom and Vodacom.

Zahir Williams, Cell C Chief Legal Officer, said the agreement with the Competition Commission was based on Cell C’s social responsibility to ensure lower income consumers had access to essential communication services.

“It is important to keep in mind that the Inquiry did not find any evidence that Cell C had contravened the Competition Act, rather that certain industry-wide measures would improve access by lower income consumers,” Williams said.

There had been tensions between regulators and some operators accused of highly pricing their services.

These eased after the telcos made a number of proposals to regulators.

– CAJ News

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