Is data the new oil?

posted in: Is Data the new Oil | 0

If Data is the New oil?

Isn’t amazing how technology plays an increasingly vital role in our changing world, from the Spring-Revolution to the latest Durban floods, from online auctions on WhatsApp to virtual companies like Uber and Airbnb.  People are using the virtual world and its data:- to connect, to commerce, to organise, to express ones opinion, passion or belief, or just to let others know you safe.

If data is the new oil, then this very data is the very lubrication that powers our everyday lives.  The use of WhatsApp and Facebook, now account for over Ten million daily users each.  Smart-phones now accounts for about 1 in 3 phones in RSA and this is expected to reach 22 million units by 2022, and that is just four years away.  Data use has become a vital tool in our daily lives, but its high cost is like the proverbial sugar in the tank, it is slowing down progress.

Just like the oil of old, cars and planes were for the elite few, but as oil and car prices fell, so more people had access to a family car.  Like so, we have cheap phones, but data cost are expensive. This blog will explore all matters related to data, its high costs and how its very nature is changing our lives.

Just imagine being stuck in an crises like we had in Durban, you can’t tell others of your status, your 30meg bundle, which you have just purchased for more than R15 (which is over 50c/meg) was depleted due to an unexpected app update, then the remaining R20 of your airtime was used to pay for the out of –bundle data costs associated with the remainder of the app download and now you have no way to communicate or to recharge.  If you were wondering if this person should have made the effort to switch off their updates, then maybe we are missing the point.  Data and its cost should have no real financial implication in our daily lives or its safety.  Sure, there is no sure thing as a free lunch and I am no way implying that data should be free; it should just not be an abnormal portion of ones income.

Data costs are regressive in two ways, the poor pay far more for their smaller prepaid bundles per meg and for the high outs of bundle rates than what fixed contract deals provides, the second way it is regressive, is that in relation to their income, data cost is a far higher percentage as of ones income than for higher income groups.

Paying R16 three times a week on a R600 wage, costs prepaid users 8% of one’s income, this is rough, especially when one can get you only get 90M.  Prepaid users are slowly being exposed to options such as the when the same R16, can get them almost 6 time more data, if they shop around.

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