South Africa'sInternet Service Providers' Association (ISPA) has called on parliament to insist that mobile operators provide wholesale access to their data networks to ISPs as a meaningful way of reducing the cost to communicate in South Africa. Regulatory head Dominic Cull made the comments at a hearing held by parliament's portfolio committee on communications, Techcentral reported. Cull argues that the most important intervention that would bring down broadband costs would be in the mobile data services market. It's through wireless rather than fixed-line technologies that most South Africans will get online, he said. There are fewer than a million fixed broadband lines in service, whereas the mobile operators claim to provide basic high-speed internet coverage to as much as 80 percent of the country's population, according to Cull. He said a significant percentage of the population is able to access mobile broadband but is not able to afford it. Because of this, Cull argues that any intervention specifically targeted at lowering the cost of broadband and other services obtained from the mobile networks is likely to have the largest short-term impact on increasing the uptake of broadband services. He said mobile operators should be forced to offer wholesale solutions to ISPs at prices below retail levels, while taking into account their overheads and the need for a profit margin.