Parliament sets up enquiry into mobile data costs

By Staff reporter | 14 Jan 2019 at 22:39hrs
PARLIAMENT will next month institute an enquiry into mobile data costs amid concerns from consumers that network operators have astronomically raised charges.

In an interview, Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Information Communication Technology and Courier Services chairperson Mr Charlton Hwende said the committee has decided to make an enquiry into the cost of communication following an increased number of consumer complaints over high charges.

"Following calls by mobile phone data consumers who approached our Parliamentary Committee on ICT and meetings we conducted with the regulator, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (Potraz) our committee resolved to carry out an enquiry on the cost of communication and more specifically cost of data and we have scheduled the beginning of February as the commencement period," he said.

Mr Hwende said the committee would task Potraz to conduct an investigation to ascertain the increasing of data charges by operators.

"We will be writing to Potraz this week (last week) so that as the regulator they can investigate this matter and apply the necessary laws on those who will be caught violating the law.

"We expect network operators and airtime vendors to stick to agreed charges so that we don't exacerbate the economic hardships that are already being faced by consumers," he said.

Unscrupulous airtime dealers are now charging consumers $1,30 to $1,50 for airtime recharge card instead of the stipulated $1.

Mr Hwende said the committee was working with Potraz to ensure that network operators come up with a facility, which notifies consumers of their data usage so as to enable them to monitor and control their spending.

"One of the issues that we want all network operators to be persuaded to do is to notify customers when their data falls below 100 percent, 75 percent and 50 percent.

"This will help consumers monitor their usage and control their spending on data. I noticed some operators have begun doing so but we would like Potraz to look into this matter so that all operators can do this.

"We would also like users to be able to roll over unused data in a bundle to the next bundle or month if they are on a monthly bundle and lastly we don't see any reason why users cannot be allowed to transfer data to other users on the same network," he said.

Zimbabwe's data costs are higher than those in neighbouring countries like Malawi, Mozambique, and Lesotho.

One of the reasons contributing to the country's expensive data has largely been attributed to low competition.

Expensive infrastructure prevents small service providers from entering the market to compete with the behemoths like Econet, Netone and Telecel.



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