Mobile network operators have reacted to the announcement from ICASA that subscribers must consent before they are billed out-of-bundle tariffs.
The regulator said it did not want to be too prescriptive and that operators can use SMS, push message, USSD, or similar mechanism to get subscribers to opt-in before OOB billing is allowed.
It did not stipulate when an operator may obtain this consent.
This comes after ICASA conducted public hearings at the beginning of March on the draft End-User and Subscriber Service Charter regulations, which it published for comment in 2017.
In addition to regulations governing how operators have to handle data depletion and out-of-bundle billing, the draft regulations sought to place a minimum validity period on data bundles.
While ICASA steered clear of the controversial three-year validity period on prepaid data, its final regulations do have stipulations on data rollover and transfers.
It stated that operators must offer the ability to roll over data from one period to another.
Consumers must also be able to transfer data to a subscriber on the same network.
We need to see the final regulations
Vodacom and MTN were hesitant to provide a statement on ICASA’s final regulations, saying they have to see them in full first.
“While it was expected that the regulator would deal with the five specific elements raised, the extent of the changes required by the mobile operators will only come to light once the detailed regulations are published next week,” MTN told MyBroadband.
“MTN will be in a better position to comment, on that detail, once we have had the opportunity to study the actual regulations.”
Vodacom said it will review the regulations when they are published and will provide comment in due course.
Cell C also said it will only comment once it has had the opportunity to fully review the regulations.
ICASA aims to publish the regulations this week. Industry expects believe the regulations will be in the government gazette by Monday the latest.
The new regulations will come into effect a month after the date they are published, ICASA told MyBroadband.
Telkom cautiously welcomes changes
Telkom was less reserved in its reaction, saying it supports the regulator’s efforts to lower the cost to communicate.
“We cautiously welcome ICASA’s position on the need for fairness in business practice around data pricing and the expiry of data bundles,” said Telkom.
“We are encouraged by this direction as this will enable us to continue to differentiate our products and provide subscribers with cost-effective choices.”
Telkom said it will only be in a position to study the implications of the new regulations once they have been published.