Communications and Digital Technologies Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni has promised that every South African household will get 10GB free data “at some point.”
Ntshavheni made the announcement during the State of the Nation Address (SONA) debate in Parliament on Tuesday (15 February).
10GB free data
According to the Minister, 4G/5G technological advancements and the planned auction of high frequency communications spectrum has opened the possibility of the government offering “prescribed minimum data” for households.
“Data has become a new utility like water and electricity that our home needs. At some point, a South African household, whether they are rich or poor, will be given access to 10GB per month, because that is what the government will deliver,” she promised without giving a timeline.
Ntshavheni added that once the spectrum is auctioned, the government will require network operators to also provide internet connectivity to schools, clinics and hospitals, and offices of traditional leaders or traditional authorities across South Africa.
“The extension of broadband to traditional authorities is part of government’s commitment to strengthen the role of traditional leaders as service delivery centres of government,” she added.
Communications spectrum auction
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is expected to auction high frequency communications spectrum in March.
“This will unlock new spectrum for mobile telecommunications for the first time in over a decade,” President Cyril Ramaphosa said in his SONA last week.
“In addition, we will facilitate the rapid deployment of broadband infrastructure across all municipalities by establishing a standard model for the granting of municipal permissions.
“These reforms will revolutionise the country’s technological development, making faster broadband accessible to more people and reducing the costs of digital communications.”
Six mobile/network operators are expected to make bids during the auction, including Cell C, MTN, Vodacom, Telkom, Rain and Liquid.
However, a court challenge by Telkom could derail the auction.