In December 2017, MTN launched an out-of-bundle (OOB) barring feature, which allowed users to prevent out-of-bundle data usage.
This system provided users with a simple way to block OOB usage by dialling *141*0# and selecting the relevant option.
When selecting the option, users could choose to turn the feature off and prevent bill shock due to out-of-bundle spend.
Shortly after this became available, however, MTN backtracked on the launch and said the feature was still a pilot programme and was not available to the general public.
“An error on the part of MTN has led to the incorrect impression that the company has launched an out-of-bundle barring service,” it said.
“This is currently not the case, MTN has not launched OOB barring functionality.”
MyBroadband tested the service on an MTN SIM and found that it worked on a prepaid 30-day data bundle, but did not work with a one-hour data bundle.
Reports of problems
Many MyBroadband users with access to the experimental feature have reported experiencing issues with the barring option in recent weeks.
Users said they incurred out-of-bundle charges despite turning OOB spending off in the MTN USSD menu, while others said the option was no longer available for them.
MyBroadband attempted to test the feature on the same MTN prepaid SIM we used for the previous test, but found that the feature was not available.
Subsequently, we reached out to MTN regarding its OOB barring feature and asked what its status was.
MTN executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan told MyBroadband that MTN has still not launched its OOB barring feature, but added that it will do so at the end of February.
“This option will be launched, in line with the requirements of the [ICASA] End User and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations, at the end of this month,” she said
“There is currently no OOB barring feature in place.”
O’Sullivan added that MTN remains on track to meet all the requirements of the regulations at the end of February 2019.
End-User and Subscriber Service Charter
MTN has also implemented a number of changes to its mobile network to align with ICASA’s regulations.
Mobile networks are required to comply with the new regulations by 28 February 2019.
The regulations require operators to provide customers with the ability to transfer mobile data to other subscribers, roll over once-off data bundles, and opt out of OOB charges.
MTN recently changed how its data usage notifications worked to comply with these regulations, notifying users when they had depleted 50%, 80%, and 100% of their monthly data balance or inclusive data.
Other South African mobile networks have also started preparing for the deadline of 28 February.