ICASA’s End-User and Subscriber Service Charter will come into effect at the end of February 2019.
The new regulations require mobile operators to change their network functionality to be more user-friendly, particularly with regards to out-of-bundle billing.
The charter states that users must also be presented with the option to roll over mobile data bundles and transfer data to other users on the same network.
All of South Africa’s mobile operators have stated that they will be fully compliant with these regulations by the deadline of 28 February.
Questions remain regarding the logistics of the shift, however, such as what happens to promotional and limited-time products.
It is unclear whether one-day data bundles for example, will still be available under the new regulations.
MyBroadband therefore asked South African mobile operators how the implementation of the new regulations will affect their limited-time mobile data offerings.
Cell C told MyBroadband that the regulations do not cover how it offers bundles or the commercial pricing.
“We are currently not planning any changes to our limited-time bundles. That said, we continually review our product offerings and make changes to ensure we meet our customers’ needs and company objectives.”
“Customers will have the option to extend their bundle validity. 1-day bundles can be extended by an additional 1 day, 5-day bundles by 1 or 7 days, and 30-day bundles by 1, 7, or 30 days,” Cell C added.
“One-year bundles can be extended by 30 days.”
Cell C customers can use the rollover feature via USSD, the Cell C app, and the company’s website.
“Data transfer applies across all bundles with the same logic. Customers can transfer up to 1GB per month and can do three transfers per day. All transfers are free of charge,” added Cell C.
Telkom told MyBroadband it is fully compliant with ICASA’s regulations.
The mobile operator implemented the changes in two phases last year, which included an option to opt into and out of OOB data usage, the extension of data validity periods, and the facilitation of data transfer on the Telkom network.
Promotional data is not available for transfer on the Telkom network, and the company did not state whether it would make any changes to limited-time bundles.
However, Telkom’s website notes that while validity periods are extended for once-off bundles, there will be no extended validity periods applied to promotional or time-based data bundles.
Vodacom said it had no immediate plans to change its bundles as a result of the new regulations.
“The extension of a data bundle will be based on its original bundle validity,” Vodacom told MyBroadband.
“As an example, an hourly bundle can be rolled over for an additional hour, a daily bundle will be rolled over for an additional day, whereas a weekend bundle will be rolled over for an additional weekend.”
“All other bundles will be rolled over for a maximum seven-day period.”
Vodacom added that this maximum also applies to 30-day bundles, meaning that customers with a monthly bundle will only be able to roll over their day for an additional seven days.
MTN executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan told MyBroadband that MTN does not plan to change the expiry rules on its products.
“MTN has been offering data rollover for a number of years and is therefore already compliant with this section of the regulations,” O’Sullivan said.
Currently, MTN contract customers have their data roll over automatically each month to the maximum of twice the monthly allocation of data.
“As an example, a customer with an MTN Made for Me XL would have 5.5GB per month. At the end of that month, if the customer had not used any data, that full 5.5GB would roll over, making 11GB available to the customer,” she said.
“If no data is used in that month, the oldest data is forfeited. The same applies to recurring data bundles purchased by contract and prepaid customers.”
O’Sullivan added that on most ad hoc bundles, data can be rolled over in perpetuity as long as the customer buys another bundle before the existing bundle expires. When the customer buys a new bundle, the data remaining on the original bundle will roll over.
“The regulations are not specific on the timings of the rollover but our existing offer has been well-received by our contract and prepaid customers,” she said.
MTN does not charge customers for data rollover.