End to out-of-bundle surprises

May 2nd, 2018, Published in Articles: EngineerIT

ICASA councillor, Botlenyana Mokhele.

ICASA has published new regulations for the mobile industry that will end the out-of-bundle surprise that mobile users have been complaining about for many years. The end-user and subscriber service regulations seek to protect the rights of consumers by ensuring that they are provided with correct and timeous information that will assist them in making informed decisions, and will facilitate redress to those consumers who have been unfairly treated by network providers.

In a recent media briefing ICASA councillor, Botlenyana Mokhele, said that the review of the 2016 regulations was underpinned by the general concern about the data expiry and out-of-bundle data rules which are perceived as prejudicial to consumers. ICASA has now published amendments to the End-user and Subscriber Service Charter regulation of 7 August 2017. The main changes are: 

  • Usage notification: All licensees are required to send usage depletion notifications to consumers when their usage is at 50%, 80% and 100% depletion levels. 
  • Rollover of data: All licensees are required to provide an option to consumers to rollover used data. The new regulations do not specify the roll-over period. It is ICASA’s view that competition in the market will determine the number of months users can roll-over their data.
  • Transfer of data: All licensees are required to provide an option to consumer to transfer data to other users on the same network.
  • Out-of-bundle billing: All licensees are no longer permitted to charge consumers out-of-bundle rates for data when their data has run out without the consumer’s specific prior consent.

Operators will have to comply with these regulations within 30 days of promulgation in the Government Gazette. The amended regulations are already available on www.icasa.org.za.

Many civil society organisations expected ICASA to announce pricing regulations that would reduce the cost of date. ICASA CEO, Willington Ngwepe, said that the authority is following a three phase process. The next phase is the identification of priority markets flowed by a review and investigation into pricing. He expects the process to be completed before ICASA’s financial years which is 31 March 2019. Will ICASA regulate on the cost of data? Ngwepe was non-committal. He said that competition in the market will most likely achieve this. 

It is expected that the mobile industry will be able to comply within the 30 day period. Some operators have already made changes which they had anticipated after the public consultation held in March this year.

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