Is South Africa still enjoying some free(ish) internet?
You may have come across the term “Net Neutrality”. Net Neutrality is a big issue around the world as many people feel that their freedom of communication and of expression on the internet are in jeopardy.
For more on “Net Neutrality”, click here.
But what is it like for a South African?
Was the internet, ever, supposed to be a free marketplace?
A place where anyone had an equal and fair platform in publishing their information, goods, or even services?
Whatever it was meant to be, internet service providers(ISP’s) may be using their influence to steer the market.
What is net neutrality?
It is simply the principle that the internet should be open equally to all of its users and that service provider should not discriminate against any user or service. Especially in favour of another.
How bad is it though?
Although the situation may be worse in the USA, for example, South African providers have also joined in with deals that favour certain services. But these are services that help South African users on platforms that the majority of internet users use. One example is the R15 WhatsApp bundle from Cell C which lasts a whole month.
This helps people have easy and cheaper access to a service that a significant majority prefer.
Then there’s the Telkom deal that basically charges no data fees when you stream from Showmax, another preferred platform. Also, in fairness, they have a deal that allows a user stream videos and music from services such as Google Play Movies and DSTV.
What’s the point here?
The point here is that a market can be controlled in a good or bad way, for a good or bad reason. And there are certainly examples of both.
But based on what I’ve found so far, South Africans are gaining more than they’re loosing