The Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA), which represents most of South Africa’s ISP community, has called for a wholesale mobile broadband offering from South Africa’s telecommunications operators. They want to bring down the cost of mobile data by introducing wholesale mobile data products that ISPs can resell.
“Ispa argues that the absence of a wholesale mobile data offering constitutes a lost business opportunity for mobile operators and an obstacle to deepening broadband penetration,” the association said in a statement.
They believe that the mobile market could take a lesson from fixed-line broadband, where the wholesale model has been well developed to the point that Internet Service Providers have lowered prices due to competition, and urge consumers to create “pull” by demanding more uncapped data options.
“Opening up the ADSL market to competition has created business opportunities for providers and the consumer has benefited hugely,” said ISPA chair Graham Beneke. “We believe that [communications regulator] Icasa should take the necessary action to enable a simple resale model for mobile data to stimulate the same sort of consumer-friendly competition. It seems like regulatory pressure is necessary to spur the introduction of the necessary wholesale product to create this new market.”
ISPA believes that when a genuine wholesale product is launched, like the one seen between MTN and Afrihost, it results in real cost benefits to the end customer.
“In South Africa, mobile devices are the primary gateway to the business and social opportunities offered by the internet,” said Beneke. “High prices for mobile broadband will continue to act as a brake on internet penetration in the country.”