MTN South Africa has finally reached a consent agreement with the Competition Commission over data prices, more than six weeks after rival Vodacom did the same.
The agreement follows what the commission has described as a “protracted discussion” between the parties following the conclusion of the regulator’s data services market inquiry, which was finalised in December.
The commission required Vodacom and MTN to implement “substantial and immediate reductions on tariff levels, especially prepaid monthly bundles”, within two months of the report’s publication.
Vodacom and the commission concluded a consent agreement on 9 March, which took effect on 1 April after it was ratified by the Competition Tribunal. The MTN agreement has now also been referred to the tribunal.
“MTN had already been in negotiations with the commission but was also forced to respond in the market to those price changes and the additional subscriber value provided by Vodacom as anticipated by the commission,” the competition watchdog said in a statement on Thursday.
Under the agreement, MTN has undertaken to:
- Reduce the price of 30-day prepaid bundles up to 1GB, with the 1GB monthly bundle being reduced to R99.
- Implement the retail price reductions across all its retail channels from 1 May.
- Offer all its customers a daily free data bundle to use in its Ayoba application, capped at 20MB/day. “The commission noted that MTN revealed that it implemented the daily lifeline package in respect of the Ayoba chat, media and channels functionalities on 12 March, and is still to implement the Ayoba browser functionality following this consent agreement.”
- Offer all its customers zero-rated access to certain public-benefit websites and other sites from 1 May, subject to a maximum of 500 websites, focusing on education, healthcare and job recruitment, capped at 500MB/month per customer.
- Enable all its customers, at no charge, to manage their data usage through USSD and on the MTNApp.co.za website.
“The commission will institute ongoing monitoring of pricing levels and profitability into the future until the market becomes more competitive,” it said.
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