MyBroadband recently received a complaint from a reader who had been signed up to WASPs without their approval – and had hundreds of rand in airtime taken.
Upon communication with WASPA (Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association) regarding the issue, the reader was told it fell outside of their jurisdiction.
The services in question were part of Vodacom’s CTB (Charge To Bill) platform, and were excluded from WASPA’s Code of Conduct.
There are three scenarios that are specifically excluded from the scope of WASPA’s Code of Conduct:
- Vodacom VLive
- Vodacom CTB
- MTN Play
To find out why these services are excluded from the code of conduct, MyBroadband spoke to WASPA, Vodacom, and MTN.
According to WASPA general manager Ilonka Badenhorst, there are two types of services that do not fall within its jurisdiction – the first of which are Charge to Bill services.
“In this case, the mobile network operator (MNO) enters directly into an agreement with a company to provide content services to end-users of that network,” said Badenhorst.
According to Badenhorst, there is no requirement from an MNO that such a company must become a WASPA member, or comply with the code of conduct.
Network platforms are also exempt from the WASPA Code of Conduct.
“In this case the MNO procures content directly from a supplier and offers such content on the network-branded platform,” said Badenhorst.
“There is no requirement from the MNO that such a supplier must fall within WASPA’s jurisdiction or comply with the WASPA code.”
In contrast, a traditional WASP agreement requires that a company providing such a service is a WASPA member and must adhere to the provisions of WASPA’s Code of Conduct.
What the Code of Conduct says
Badenhorst said that this is articulated in WASPA’s Code of Conduct as follows:
1.5 The WASPA Code of Conduct is binding on all WASPA members.
1.6 Unless otherwise specified, this Code of Conduct applies to all mobile application services offered by WASPA members to customers in South Africa.
1.6A. The following platforms are specifically excluded from the scope of the Code of Conduct:
a) Vodacom VLive, Vodacom Charge to Bill (CTB)
b) MTN Play
WASPA may refer any compliance concerns involving these excluded platforms to the relevant network operator.
The WASPs in questions
Badenhorst also clarified the nature of the specific services which the MyBroadband reader complained about.
According to Badenhorst, neither of these services are offered over a WASP agreement on Vodacom.
“Our contacts at Vodacom have confirmed that these services are Vodacom Charge to Bill services,” said Badenhorst.
“Therefore, these services do not fall within WASPA’s jurisdiction.”
Vodacom told MyBroadband it manages its own digital content platforms, such as Direct Carrier Billing (DCB) and VLive, which are wholly controlled by Vodacom through user-consented sign-up using an open API.
“All services delivered on these platforms are selected, approved, and tested by Vodacom, prior to launch, and all billing is controlled by Vodacom.”
Vodacom said it has a dedicated team which monitors these services to ensure they are compliant with Vodacom’s expectations at all times.
“Vodacom also works closely with WASPA, who monitors all DCB services on behalf of Vodacom, to ensure that over and above all of Vodacom’s internal controls that are already in place to protect Vodacom customers, all governance set out in the WASPA Code of Conduct is applied to all Vodacom DCB and VLive services.”
MTN executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan told MyBroadband that with regards to MTN Play, the service is not a WASP.
This is why it is not bound by WASPA regulations.
“Nonetheless, MTN SA works closely with WASPA and therefore MTN Play partners are contractually obliged to follow the WASPA Code of Conduct,” said O’Sullivan.
“MTN has introduced customer-centric policies aimed at obliging content partners to use a double opt-in for subscriptions and including a layer of fraud detection in the subscription process to block bots and other malware,” added O’Sullivan.
MTN’s website states that MTN Play provides lifestyle-based content, including music, sports, news, and apps.