When Vodacom, MTN, and Cell C must block OOB data

Mobile network operators which do not offer the ability to opt into out-of-bundle data billing will soon have to implement new systems.

This comes as ICASA is set to publish new End-User and Subscriber Service Charter regulations in the government gazette this month.

Operators will then have a month from the date of publication to ensure they comply with the regulations, said ICASA.

ICASA said the new regulations will compel all networks to block out-of-bundle billing by default.

Operators may then offer subscribers the ability to opt in for out-of-bundle tariffs.

New regulations

ICASA published its draft End-User and Subscriber Service Charter regulations for comment in 2017, and conducted public hearings on them at the beginning of March 2018.

Stakeholders expressed their opinions on the regulations, with Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom disagreeing with ICASA’s proposal to regulate their out-of-bundle business rules.

Telkom argued ICASA should not prescribe that out-of-bundle billing must be disabled by default, but agreed that operators should offer the option to opt out.

Telkom already doesn’t automatically bill users for out-of-bundle data usage.

The other three operators opposed the idea of regulating out-of-bundle billing entirely, whether through opt-in or opt-out regulations.

Despite strong opposition from mobile network operators, ICASA’s new regulations state that subscribers must consent to being billed out-of-bundle.

ICASA said it avoided being too prescriptive in its new regulations regarding how operators may ask for consent to bill out-of-bundle.

It therefore allowed for an SMS, push notification, USSD, or other relevant method to be used.

Now read: The R21,729 difference between in-bundle and OOB data prices

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When Vodacom, MTN, and Cell C must block OOB data