Media Briefing Paper
Summary of FMF SEIA
Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA)
SA Government Radio Spectrum Policy
Produced as a Public Service
The key message of this study is that regulatory failure and political ideology have deprived South African consumers of better coverage,
higher efficiency and lower prices.
Why do data and spectrum matter?
The mobile telecommunications industry is the backbone of the economy. Mobile data powers cell phones, laptops, tablets, the internet and more. The daily life of every citizen is affected and enhanced by mobile communications. This industry is arguably post-apartheid’s greatest success story.
The #datamustfall movement highlighted the vital role played by this industry in every sphere of life, including education, entertainment, commerce, travel, healthcare and general communications. Everyone wants data at lower prices.
Spectrum is the collective term for radio frequency “bands” that deliver data services. Spectrum is the mobile communications industry’s essential resource.
The Covid-19 lockdown brought the importance of mobile communications into sharp relief when people were forced to stay and work from home. Without the huge investment in private infrastructure of mobile network operators (MNOs), lockdown would have been calamitous.
Why then did government effectively throttle the industry by its failure to release spectrum since 2005 and compound its failed implementation of “digital migration”? What is the rationale behind the wireless open access network (WOAN)? Is it necessary or a political artefact to create yet another failed state-owned entity (SOE) and opportunities for patronage and wasteful “rent seeking”? WOANs have not succeeded anywhere.
The FMF’s Socio-Economic Impact Assessment (SEIA) analyses South Africa’s mobile telecommunication policy and its impact on consumers. Since mobile services were launched in 1994, the same year as democratic South Africa, the telecommunications sector has been transformed radically. The introduction of post-paid voice contracts in urban areas to today’s mass market was astonishingly fast. The game-changer was when an offering thought to be for a few affluent urban consumers became affordable to everybody virtually overnight.
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FMF Media, Communications & Business Development Manager
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