The biggest telecom operator in the country, MTN Ghana has announced that beginning November 14, 2022 the prices of all its data bundles will go up.
A circular sent to all customers via SMS read as follows:
Dear Valued Customer,
kindly be informed that effective 14th November, 2022, data bundle prices will be revised upwards. Enjoy 50% bonus on bundle purchase (4G only) and remember that MTN Data bundles do not expire. Visit www.mtn.com.gh for more information. Thank you.
This comes at a time when Ghanaians are facing severe economic hardship underpinned by the a free fall of the Cedi, over 40 general inflation, as well as skyrocketing fuel and food prices.
It is not clear why MTN, the biggest player on the market is increasing data prices at this time.
But amidst the harsh economic conditions, with its attendant rising operational costs and increasing tax burden, data and call rates across networks in the country have remained generally stable and that has made access to the internet fairly affordable.
Recently, the CEO of Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (GCT) pointed out in an interview with Techgh24 that the tax element of every one Cedi telcos make in Ghana is 47Gp, which he believes is too high and does not create room for telcos to invest in digital inclusion as much as they want.
Additionally, telcos have had to absorb the cost of SIM re-registration on behalf of their customers, which is ghs5 per SIM card, paid to the regulator, National Communications Authority (NCA).
Secondly, MTN in particular, is also the only significant market power (SMP) in Ghana’s telecoms industry. Because of that status, MTN is, by law, not supposed to have the cheapest data and call rates on the market. So, that could also be a reason for this move to increase data prices.
Indeed, earlier in the year, MTN increased fixed broadband data prices, citing regulatory pressure related to its SMP status.
At the time, the regulator denied ever pressurizing MTN to increase fixed broadband prices because MTN’s SMP status was and is still strictly in relation to its mobile operations and nothing to do with its fixed broadband services.
In fact, the biggest player on the fixed broadband market is Vodafone, not MTN.
Whether the November 14 increase in data prices includes both fixed and mobile broadband bundles – and whether it is at the instance of the regulator as part of the SMP conditionalities or not, MTN is yet to make that clear.
Again, when MTN increased fix broadband prices, they claimed the idea was to be at par with other operators to ensure fair competition. It is yet to be seen how the increase in mobile data prices will also play out on the market in terms of fair competition.
Meanwhile, in the third quarter of this year, MTN recorded a significant 43.7 per cent increase in data revenue year-on-year to GH¢2.8 billion, supported by an 18.2 per cent year-on-year increase in the number of our active data subscribers, 50.7 per cent year-on-year growth in data traffic and a 27.5 per cent year-on-year increase in the megabytes consumed per active subscriber.
The contribution of data to the company’s service revenue increased from 35.1 per cent same period in 2021 to 39.5 per cent this year.