Telecommunications group Telkom has zero-rated access to essential online government services, including free public access to the Government Communication Information System (GCIS) South African government website.
Telkom has also zero-rated access to educational institutions, including primary websites of more than six universities and further education and training institutions, as well as knowledge-enhancing sites such as Wikipedia, Everything Science, Everything Maths and DBE Cloud.
This forms part of an agreement with the Competition Commission for Telkom to assist in narrowing the digital divide, post the publication of the commission’s ‘Final Findings and Recommendations of the Data Services Market Inquiry’ report late last year.
“On the mobile front, Telkom has always been committed to providing cost-effective mobile solutions to its subscribers. There was therefore no need for the commission to recommend that Telkom lower its prices when it concluded its Data Services Market Inquiry,” Telkom Group CEO Sipho Maseko said.
The company has, however, agreed to improve transparency of pricing in line with the inquiry recommendations.
“Telkom will notify its customers of the in-bundle effective rate per megabyte in its purchase confirmation messages to subscribers. Telkom will also notify subscribers of this rate through SMS when data bundles are successfully purchased.”
The agreement also aims to enhance fixed-broadband access with the introduction of a new aggregated wholesale solution that removes concerns over the current Internet Protocol (IP) Connect product.
Telkom and the commission have agreed that the new product suite to be offered by Telkom wholesale division Openserve will introduce transparency and remove any perceived competition problems associated with the provision of wholesale-broadband connectivity, Maseko commented.
“Openserve has been considering changing the way it provides wholesale-broadband over its copper and fibre infrastructure for some time. During discussions with the commission, it was agreed that the structure and initial pricing of this new offering from Openserve would reduce wholesale charges to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) for fibre-broadband wholesale customers and in this way remove the pricing concerns raised in respect of IP Connect,” he said.
“The new Openserve offering, which is structured as an aggregated end-to-end solution, will allow ISPs to manage their costs and compare the Openserve fixed-broadband prices with the prices of other wholesale-broadband providers more easily, thus enhancing competition in the fixed-broadband connectivity market.”
GCIS welcomed the move, with Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu saying that the zero-rating of the South African government’s website will come as a “great relief” to the many South Africans who require information about the constantly evolving and growing opportunities government puts in place for citizens' self-empowerment.
“Over the last 12 months alone, more than 12-million users visited the website, as well as the government news sites, sanews and vukuzenzele, to access information on a range of services and programmes vital to the development of our country,” he said.