Millions of South Africans subscribe to WASPs and these services continue to grow in popularity, according to local mobile networks.
WASPs, short for Wireless Application Service Providers, are mobile-based content services that offer content such as news, entertainment, and gaming for a regular subscription.
They are regulated by The Wireless Application Service Providers’ Association (WASPA) and have been a source of controversy in South Africa over the years.
Many South Africans have claimed to have been subscribed to WASPs without their consent or knowledge.
This resulted in these people being charged for the service – with it often taking weeks or months before the user realises what is happening.
WASP fraud less frequent, but not eradicated
Mobile networks have attempted to fight WASP fraud over the years to some success.
However, cases of WASP fraud are far from eradicated.
In February, MyBroadband was contacted by a Vodacom contract customer who complained they were signed up to WASP services without their consent.
Vodacom said that while the services were not theirs, they still refunded the customer.
WASPA said the services the reader was subscribed to were outside of its jurisdiction, so it could not act on behalf of the reader.
It recommended that anyone who wants to ensure they are unsubscribed from all WASP services should follow the following steps:
- SMS “STOP ALL” to 31050
- Dial *111# > Services > Content Services > Stop All
- Stop Vlive and CTB Services – Dial *117#
- Stop all content services – Dial *133*1#
- Dial *141*5#
- Select 1 for WASP services
- Select 2 CTB/MTN Play services
- Telkom app – Login > My product > Subscriptions > Content Services
WASPs remain popular in South Africa
Despite the issues they have caused over the years, WASPs remain perfectly legal in South Africa, and mobile networks claim they are used by many South Africans for entertainment or information purposes.
MyBroadband asked South African mobile networks about WASP popularity in South Africa.
MTN said that as of December 2019, it had recorded just over 3 million Rich Media Subscriptions.
It said that it has noticed trends regarding the types of services that are most successful.
“Lately MTN has noticed that Content Providers offering Rich Media Services such as gaming, video, and music are all gaining good momentum,” said MTN.
“Gaming services remain the most successful.”
Vodacom told MyBroadband that it does not disclose the number of users who sign up to WASPs on its network.
However, it confirmed that WASP subscriptions have shown continuous growth over time.
It was also not willing to disclose the types of WASPs that are most popular as it has confidentiality agreements in place, and because this information is competitive in nature.
Cell C told MyBroadband that the number of WASP subscribers changes regularly – making it hard to give a concrete figure.
“The number varies and is very dynamic,” said Cell C.
It said that the most popular types of WASPs are gaming, social media, and entertainment options.