SAMANTHA ENSLIN-PAYNE: Cellphone companies penalised for following ‘user pays’ script
While data is a commodity like electricity, it's provided by companies, not the state,
The user pays. That is the principle the Treasury embraced and hoped to sell to citizens as it became clear that infrastructure development would have to be funded from somewhere other than the national coffers. It was the argument state-owned road agency Sanral used for its toll roads in Gauteng and a justification for Eskom's steep tariff-increase plans. Neither of which succeeded. Sanral isn't enforcing payment of toll fees, and Eskom, while still securing increases well above inflation, has not received those it requested. But when it comes to the private sector, it seems some companies are penalised for applying the principle that some in government wish they could apply. Last week's release of the Competition Commission's preliminary report into data prices said cell companies were profiteering. The Collins definition of profiteering is "making large profits by charging high prices for goods that are hard to get". Other definitions imply illegal activity. Companies make profit...