MTN is implementing measures to address the “disappearing data” phenomenon discovered by MyBroadband during an investigation.
MyBroadband recently purchased new prepaid SIMs from MTN, Vodacom, Cell C, and Telkom, loaded them with airtime, and placed them each in a Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone.
The “mobile data” usage option in Android was turned off and the devices were all connected to a functioning Wi-Fi connection.
The result was that the airtime allotment on the MTN SIM decreased due to daily out-of-bundle data usage over the course of a week.
A second MTN SIM was purchased and installed in a Huawei P8, to ensure the data depletion was not an anomaly, and the results were replicated.
MTN implements a fix
MTN SA told MyBroadband that the data traffic used by the devices was valid data traffic, and not control plane traffic – which was the suspect when competing networks were asked for comment on the matter.
Vodacom, Telkom, and Cell C said they do not charge for control plane traffic.
“It was not control plane traffic, which refers to packets transmitted by the network to authenticate the device and connect it to the network,” said MTN.
The company said it will implement measures to address the scenario where “a user disables mobile data and remains connected to the network via the LTE technology” and mobile data is consumed.
“As per the 3GPP technical specification, the device remains connected to the network when data is disabled on the mobile device. This is due to the default bearer concept in the LTE specification. This is standard LTE behaviour and is not unique to MTN,” said the company.
The implementation of the fix will be effective from next week.
“MTN is now taking decisive steps in order to remain competitive and provide customers with value for money.”
MTN said the charges in question could affect less than 3% of MTN’s customer base, and do not occur during 3G or 2G/EDGE data sessions.
Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Information and Technology Officer at MTN SA, said they have taken this matter seriously.
“The implementation of these measures is testament to our responsiveness to customer feedback and our commitment to provide value to our subscribers,” he said.