The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) has released a discussion document on the market inquiry into mobile broadband services in South Africa.
The document aims to asses the mobile broadband market in South Africa and the dominance of local networks, including Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom.
ICASA said that the two biggest networks in the country – Vodacom and MTN – have significant dominance due to their market share in municipalities across South Africa.
The regulator used a market share threshold of 45% to determine whether a single mobile operator was dominant in a certain municipality, and found the following:
- Vodacom has over 45% mobile site market share in 110 municipalities
- MTN has over 45% mobile site market share in 78 municipalities
- Cell C has over 45% mobile site market share in one municipality
- 41 municipalities do not have a dominant mobile operator
“MTN and Vodacom are both vertically integrated since they operate downstream in offering retail services as well as upstream, having been assigned spectrum, operating their own high sites and offering roaming services,” ICASA said.
Harmful to competition
ICASA said that this degree of verticality could be harmful to competition and results in both MTN and Vodacom having significant market power at both the wholesale and retail levels.
“Evidence that the extent of vertical integration is harmful to competition is the limited sharing of infrastructure in South Africa and the very high costs of roaming,” ICASA said.
“In addition, there is a strong correlation between the level of concentration of ownership of mobile sites and retail customers in municipalities in South Africa.”
The regulator added that mobile site market share and customer market shares are highly correlated, which suggests that the level of competition at the retail level is strongly linked to the level of competition at the wholesale level.
“In fact, Vodacom and MTN’s dominant positions in wholesale site access services are strongly correlated with their dominant positions at the retail level,” ICASA said.
The image below shows the mobile site market share of the mobile operators across the country.