ICASA plans to conduct market reviews which may lead to the regulation of data prices.
This follows ICASA’s recent announcement regarding the finalisation of its End-User and Subscriber Service Charter regulations.
ICASA said the new regulations would require operators to allow subscribers to roll over unused data, or transfer it to another user on the same network.
It also said operators would no longer be allowed to charge out-of-bundle tariffs without first obtaining subscriber consent.
Stakeholders expected ICASA to use the opportunity to make an announcement on the price of mobile data in South Africa.
However, it emphasised that its review of the charter was never about regulating the price of data services.
“Our objective is to develop minimum standards in respect of the provision of data, SMS, and voice services,” said ICASA.
Producing pricing regulations is a lengthy process which requires an extensive market review, specified in Chapter 10 of the Electronic Communications Act.
For this reason, ICASA said it embarked on a phased approach to address concerns surrounding mobile data raised by consumers.
Phase one, which has just been completed, was about investigating the business rules of mobile operators and addressing any unfair practices – especially those that are prejudicial to the poor.
These included data expiry and out-of-bundle billing by default.
ICASA said it has started the second phase, in which it will identifying priority markets where the review of regulations may be necessary.
The third phase will be specific market reviews on what informs prices for communications services in South Africa.
It said its preliminary view is that the following markets should be prioritised for market reviews:
- Wholesale fixed access services.
- National transmission and metropolitan connectivity.
- Wholesale supply of mobile network services and RAN services.
“[ICASA] envisages to finalise the priority market exercise by publishing a findings document with a list of priority markets in June 2018,” said ICASA.
“After finalising this exercise, [ICASA] will immediately commence market reviews in respect of the identified priority markets.”