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This week the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa released a report with a dull title but a dramatic message. The regulator's Bi-annual Report on the Analysis of Tariff Notifications Submitted to Icasa for the Period 01 January 2016 to 30 June 2017, lays bare the price structure of South African communications, and highlights the astonishing discrepancy between data costs for the rich and those for the poor. Lurking amid 70 pages of tables and analysis is a chart that starkly contrasts the out-of-bundle fee that low-income users pay, with the big bundles that well-off users buy. The cost per megabyte, if you are using airtime - or being charged out-of-bundle - is given as R2 for Vodacom, R1.10 for CellC, 99c for MTN and 29c for Telkom. Yes, the much-maligned Telkom is the only operator that has anything close to an affordable data rate for the poor. In comparison, those who buy big data bundles of 20GB pay around 5c a megabyte (Vodacom), about 5.5c (Cell C), 6c (MTN...

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