CAPE TOWN: Strong competition has helped South African mobile internet users to benefit from some of the cheapest post-paid broadband charges in Africa, although charges remain high for pre-paid usage, a new study has revealed.

In comparison with other African countries, Research ICT Africa, a market research firm, found that South Africa has the cheapest post-paid, or contract, mobile broadband cost of $9.81 per month for 1GB of data, but is ranked only fourth in the 1GB pre-paid index, where costs reached $11.23.

Ghana offered the best regional value for 1GB of data, on $3.72, followed by Kenya on $8.52 and Tanzania on $10.17.

Alison Gillwald, executive director of Research ICT Africa, attributed the reduction in post-paid broadband prices to competitive forces acting in response to the relatively high number of post-paid customers in South Africa.

She said: "With mobile operators offering different broadband data options and packages for different market segments, the mobile broadband market is where pricing pressure is occurring as operators compete to attract and retain broadband customers."

Similar to the 1GB mobile post-paid index, South Africa is relatively cheap for the 5GB mobile post-paid basket. At a monthly cost of $21.80, it is only outranked by Nigeria where it costs $19.77.

While this is good news for South African consumers, the country remains one of the most expensive markets for pre-paid mobile costs in Africa and also rates poorly for fixed-line ADSL costs.

Published ahead of a parliamentary review into the cost of communications in South Africa, the research found 22% of households with internet connectivity have an ADSL line.

The research also found that, reflecting media trends across the region, mobile broadband has overtaken fixed broadband in South Africa in terms of subscribers, price and speed. In all, a clear majority (70.8%) of South African internet users now operate a mobile phone to go online.

Data sourced from Research ICT Africa, Business Day; additional content by Warc staff