Rain fixed-LTE customers should take note of the mobile network’s data depletion order when purchasing top-up bundles.
An Afrihost customer using Rain’s fixed-LTE service recently told MyBroadband he was experiencing an issue with the order in which his data was being consumed.
He claimed that his top-up data was depleting before his included monthly data allocation.
This appeared to go against ICASA’s regulations on data depletion, which determined that data must be consumed on a first-in-first-out (FIFO) basis.
According to ICASA, whichever bundle was purchased or allocated first must be consumed before data depletion on a bundle bought at a later stage starts.
Peak and Off-peak
Rain divides data allocations to fixed-LTE customers on its network between peak and off-peak periods.
Peak data is consumed between 18:00 and 23:00, while off-peak data is used in the remaining hours each day.
Every month the customer in question is allocated 25GB peak data and 25GB off-peak data.
In March, he purchased an all-hours top-up bundle to avoid running out of data. He still had 953MB peak and 1.92GB off-peak data remaining for the month at this point.
He then noticed that his included data was no longer being consumed, but that his top-up data was being depleted.
This meant that just under 3GB of included data would expire at the end of March if he did not finish his top-up bundle first.
The screenshot on the left shows his data usage according to the Afrihost dashboard at 22:17 on 27 March, while the right side indicates his usage at 07:30 on 28 March.
The problem persisted in a slightly different form the following month.
After running out of off-peak data, he loaded his account with a 30-day top-up bundle of 20GB on 11 April.
He still had 8.7GB peak data remaining, which was set to expire on 30 April, but no off-peak data.
In this case, it can be expected that the top-up allocation would be consumed first during off-peak hours, as the customer had no data remaining for these periods.
However, the customer’s usage showed that even when he was using the Internet during peak periods, the top-up data would be consumed, instead of his remaining included data.
He provided the following screenshots from different times during peak hours on 12 April, which showed his peak data remained at 8.7GB.
The first image is from 20:21, the second from 21:13 and the third was taken at 22:17.
Afrihost’s response to client
The customer contacted Afrihost to query why this was happening.
A support team member reportedly said the issue would be escalated, as the included data should have been used first.
In subsequent correspondence, however, the user said Afrihost did not directly address the issue of peak data being depleted – and said the problem was linked to the user running out of off-peak data.
It said the customer had to provide proof of the depletion of the top-up bundle while he had off-peak data available.
Rain’s Chief Marketing Officer Khaya Dlanga told MyBroadband that most of the network’s users purchased top-up bundles only after their monthly allocations had depleted.
“In rare instances, some customers top up before exhausting their allocation or at least close to it,” Dlanga said.
He confirmed that in cases where data is topped up before included data is depleted, the top-up allocation will be consumed first as it has a 30-day lifespan.
“The unused portion of monthly peak data, if any, is rolled over without charge, for a further one calendar month,” Dlanga explained.
This means that the monthly allocation of Rain’s fixed-LTE customers should effectively be valid for 60 days and customers should be able to use any remaining data in the following month.
Afrihost confirmed to MyBroadband that this was the case for its Rain fixed-LTE product.
It must be noted that Rain’s fixed-LTE product is no longer available for purchase from ISPs. Sales of the product were suspended at the end of 2018 due to capacity constraints on Rain’s network.
Existing subscribers were allowed to continue using the service.