Cape Town – Telecommunications and Postal Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele says he plans to meet with the main players in the telecommunications sector to persuade them to reduce the cost to communicate.

Speaking to journalists in Parliament, on Wednesday, after tabling the Budget Vote for his department, the Minister said bringing down the cost to communicate through voice calls and broadband will contribute to economic growth.

He said this, as well as rolling out government’s broadband policy – SA Connect – and digital terrestrial migration were amongst the priorities that government wanted to implement in the coming financial year.

“We will speak to them, we will persuade them and have tea with them because we are all South African by and large. We will also use the regulations [by the Independent Communications Authority of SA) and the policy directive to help us in lowering the costs,” he said.

He said that what government also wanted to see was mobile operators being transparent with pricing as this would reduce costs.

The minister said this would also encourage competition and open a door to new entrants without over-concentrating the market.

Minister Cwele said, meanwhile, that he will also forge ahead to ensure that South Africa meets the International Telecommunication Union’s deadline to move from analogue to digital TV.

South Africa has until June next year to meet the deadline.

He said this as SABC and Multichoice are yet to reach a common ground with government over encryption technology on digital set-top boxes.

Cabinet took a decision last year and gazetted amendment to government policy to make the use of a control system in set-top boxes optional.

Minister Cwele said migrating to digital TV would improve the picture quality, provide additional channels for stations like SABC, amongst others and free-up spectrum for broadband services.

“It will enable to move from 3G upwards [in terms of connectivity] … it is estimated that the SABC can have up to 17 [channels once the spectrum is released].