MTN’s customers rejected being barred from using OOB (out-of-bundle) rates, the mobile network has told ICASA.
MTN made the statement at hearings on the draft End-User and Subscriber Service Charter regulations.
It said the regulator needs to be careful not to over-regulate the mobile space, as it may stifle competition and hurt consumers.
It agreed with Vodacom that disconnecting subscribers when they have consumed a data bundle is a bad idea.
“There is no need to require it to disconnect users that have opted-out of out-of-bundle data usage, as MTN has made efforts to transparently communicate with users and to empower them to choose how to control their spend,” it said.
MTN said there are various options available to users, including its reduced OOB rate.
It also agreed with Vodacom that ICASA was acting beyond the scope of its powers.
In attempting to prescribe how operators should handle OOB billing and the minimum expiry period of data bundles, ICASA is indirectly trying to regulate price.
This is outside the ambit given to ICASA, and ICASA may only intervene in wholesale prices, said MTN.
MTN stated that ICASA’s proposal to have prepaid data bundles last three years would significantly increase the price of data.
“This will inevitably disadvantage the user, both from a choice and affordability point of view,” it said.
“MTN would like to emphasise that competition is not based on price alone, but is also based on the ability of the user to choose products and services that are suitable to their needs.”
The network warned that the removal of daily and weekly bundles – the most popular data bundles on its network – will exclude the poorer-end of the market.
It also reiterated a concern Telkom raised, which is that if all data bundles must last three years, it will run into a problem that SIMs have to be kept active for longer.
Network operators recycle inactive mobile numbers after 90 days.
If value on a SIM must be retained for three years, ICASA would need to address number recycling and the allocation of numbers to operators.