MTN and Vodacom stumble as regulator calls for price cuts
High data charges hurt low-income South Africans the most
Shares in SA’s biggest mobile operators, MTN and Vodacom, took a hit on Wednesday after the Competition Commission accused them of overcharging consumers, penalising those with lower incomes the most. The companies charge more for data services in SA than they do in other markets where they operate, according to the provisional findings of the ongoing data services market inquiry. It said they must commit to cutting prices. "Lower-income consumers may be exploited to a far greater degree relative to wealthier consumers," said commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele. The carriers must commit to reducing the price of sub-1GB packages to "within an objectively justifiable and socially defensible range" of current levels, he said. Vodacom’s share price dropped up to 5.1% to R114.88, the most in three months, while MTN fell 2.4%. The two companies had a combined 75-million customers in SA at the end of 2018, equivalent to about three-quarters of the current market. This number includes people w...