Mobile Internet operators in Ghana have quietly raised broadband tariffs by 7.4 percent over the past year as operators’ grapple with increased cost of operations, despite more and more people adopting data high-usage plans.

The increment was driven principally by increases in the mobile Internet charges of MTN, Airtel and Glo Mobile.

The National Communication Authority (NCA) last week released the tariffs of mobile operators, which showed that the data tariff of the six mobile telephony operators has on average risen from 11 pesewas per megabyte last year to 12 pesewas per megabyte — the unit by which a piece of Internet data consumed is measured.

The charges of four of the mobile Internet operators as noted by the regulator are still below the industry average.

According to the industry analysis, Expresso — the smallest network operator in terms of subscribers — has the lowest mobile data rates, charging 5 pesewas per megabyte; followed by Glo Mobile, which despite increasing its data tariff from 5 pesewas to 8 pesewas is the second-cheapest network in the country.

MTN and Airtel followed with 10 pesewas per megabyte while Vodafone and tiGO tie at the top as the most expensive mobile data providers in the country, charging consumers 20 pesewas per megabyte. 

The charges of the operators are independent of the various ongoing promotions. 

The hike in data tariffs comes at a time wholesale international bandwidth has dropped. However some Internet service providers say that the fall in wholesale bandwidth rates initially benefitted Internet prices, but the high cost of doing business in Ghana is the reason data prices have gone up.

Some of the mobile network operators, who didn’t want to be named because they are not authorized to speak to the media, explained to the B&FT that the increment is due to surging cost of operations following increases in utility and fuel costs, as well as erratic power supply in the country.

According to the NCA, there is a vast difference in the pricing of data among the operators, as some have maintained their charges for close to a year.

Currently, mobile broadband penetration has reached 60 percent in a country of an estimated 26.3 million people. 

MTN controls 48.3 percent of the 15.8 million data market, followed by Vodafone with 18.3 percent. tiGO, Airtel, Glo and Expresso follow in that order with 15.22 percent, 14 percent, 3.9 percent and 0.25 percent respectively. 

Credit: B&FT Online  (Evans Boah-Mensah)