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DATA PRICES ON DOWNWARD TREND

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MBABANE – The price of data has been on a downward trend ever since the introduction of the price transformation in 2017.

The Eswatini Communications Commission’s (ESCCOM) continuous engagement with the wholesaler (EPTC) coupled with the re-packaging of the wholesale services led to the creation of the 24 months contract service during the 2022/23 financial year. According to the ESCCOM annual report for 2022/23 financial year, the commission continued to advocate for affordable services during engagements with retailers. At the behest of the commission, both mobile operators started reducing out- of-bundle rates. During the review period, Eswatini Mobile (ESM) further reduced its out of bundle rate from E0.39/MB to E0.25/MB thus being the lowest out-of-bundle (OOB) rate in the mobile market of Eswatini. It is worth noting that after the COVID-19 era, data demand rose due to increased consumer requirements.

Reduce

The commission continued with efforts to reduce the price of data, which saw operators introducing different payment plans for the various segments of consumers. Operators (predominantly Mobile Network Operators) adopted a pricing philosophy, where data was increased, while the price remained constant. This approach enabled consumers to access more data at the same price as before and further enabled them to stay connected for longer periods.

Fulfilling

Furthermore, the commission works in collaboration with other stakeholders in fulfilling SADC broadband targets. Target two requires developing economies to have entry level broadband services priced less than two per cent of a country’s monthly gross national income (GNI) per capita. GNI per capita is universally viewed as a strong indicator of the standard of living of an average citizen in a particular country. Thus, using GNI per capita as a measurement of affordability to access entry level broadband services is more appropriate as it indicates the income level of the citizens. ESCCOM conducted an exercise using the five ITU price baskets to determine the extent to which the Kingdom of Eswatini meets Target 2.

The Kingdom of Eswatini has met the set target on three baskets. These were the fixed broadband 5GB, data and voice low consumption and the mobile cellular low usage basket.
According to ESCCOM, MTN Eswatini has relatively stable nationwide 3G (WCDMA) coverage as per the tested drive route. Most of the voice call failures on Eswatini Mobile and MTN were due to poor signal coverage. MTN was the overall best network in the Kingdom of Eswatini for both voice and mobile data, with few instances where Eswatini Mobile could be considered the better network operator. Implementing carrier aggregation technologies on the LTE network would help improve throughput for both mobile networks.

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