05/10/2017 11:47 SAST | Updated 05/10/2017 12:08 SAST

Dear Vodacom, 'Stop Playing Games'

#DataMustFall activist Ntsiki Mazwai wants to talk about data costs per gig, not megabyte.

Poet and activist for the #DataMustFall movement Ntsiki Mazwai said cellular networks should focus on the real issue that South Africans are complaining about, which is lowering data prices.

"I think that cellular networks keep running around the main issue... [Vodacom must] stop playing games," she told Huffpost SA on Thursday.

Mazwai has been at the head of a social media blackout encouraging social media users to switch off their data on Wednesdays, in an attempt to cripple cellular networks, and was reacting to news about Vodacom's 50% price slash for prepaid and contract customers.

Most Vodacom prepaid customers, who pay between R1.50 and R2 a megabyte once they run out of data, will now pay 99c from mid-October. Contract customers had their tariffs dropped to 89c a megabyte from R1 on October 1.

Mazwai said that what networks should be trying to do is decrease bundle costs.

"The war has been going on for years now. Can we start talking about how much less we can pay per gig?"

Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy said the network was doing everything in its power to make prices more affordable.

"Vodacom remains committed to accelerating the reduction in data prices," he said.

Group CEO Shameel Joosub has acknowledged that "more needs to be done".

"We need to expand 4G coverage still further, and keep pace with an increase of more than 45% in sustained data traffic demand. Both of these come at a cost, and we have invested some R32.7 billion over the last four years," Joosub said.

"However, lack of access to spectrum is hampering our ability to drive down infrastructure costs and, in turn, enable us to pass savings to the consumer," she added.