ICASA recently published its plan to bring down the cost of communication in South Africa.
One of the critical short-term interventions is the review of the consumer protection regulations known as the End-User and Subscriber Service Charter (EUSSC).
The review was necessitated by concerns regarding data expiry rules and high out-of-bundle rates, said ICASA.
The regulator proposed various interventions, including:
- All licensees are required to provide prepaid data bundles with a minimum expiry period of 3 years.
- Licensees are required to send usage notifications for data depletion to users – the intervals must show 50%, 75%, 90%, and 100% depletion.
- Rollover of unused minutes and data.
- Users must be given an option to opt-in or opt-out of being charged out-of-bundle data rates.
What mobile operators say
These interventions may looks good on paper, but they can have a significant impact on mobile operators – especially as it relates to expiring data.
Vodacom told MyBroadband that it welcomes all efforts and policy interventions aimed at reducing the cost to communicate in South Africa.
“ICASA’s proposed data regulation includes sound recommendations, which we will seek to implement in due course,” it said.
There were concerns, however, regarding the proposal to extend data expiry on prepaid bundles to 3 years.
“This will significantly limit customer choice and it is our belief that an environment should exist where network operators are able to compete by giving customers more options,” said Vodacom.
“For example, enforcing a 3-year expiry period for prepaid data bundles will eliminate our hugely-popular daily and weekly offers.”
“Of the more than 2 billion bundles that our customers will use this year, the majority are smaller and micro-bundles.”
Vodacom believes that deeper analysis of customer behaviour is necessary before making a final decision.
MTN told MyBroadband it has taken note of the ICASA proposal regarding the EUSSC.
“We are currently reviewing the content of the proposed amendment and the possible consequences thereof. It would be inappropriate to comment at this time, pending the finalisation of that review,” said MTN.
Telkom and Cell C did not respond to requests for comment.