Mobile networks heading to court over out-of-bundle regulations fight

ICASA is not discussing the possibility of an out-of-court settlement in the dispute over the implementation deadline for new data regulations.

This follows an urgent application from Cell C to interdict ICASA from enforcing its amended End-User and Subscriber Services Charter in June 2018.

Under the new regulations, service providers are prohibited from charging subscribers for out-of-bundle usage without consent.

They also require networks to offer the ability to roll over unused data, and allow the transfer of data to another subscriber on the same network.

Cell C, MTN, Telkom, and Vodacom requested an extension on the implementation deadline of the new rules, and said they needed more time to make the necessary technical changes.

ICASA declined to grant the extension, however, stating it was not in the public’s interest.

Cell C then approached the High Court, and it subsequently blocked ICASA from enforcing the regulations until the matter could be resolved.

It gave mobile network operators and ICASA 10 days to file answering affidavits to Cell C’s interdict against the mobile data regulations. Cell C would then be given five days to respond.

ICASA, MTN, and Telkom responded by the 10-day deadline.

No settlement

Cell C told MyBroadband it extended an invitation to ICASA to inspect the technical requirements for the new End-User regulations, but it did not take up the offer.

MTN also confirmed there have been no discussions to settle the matter before it goes to court.

“ICASA has indicated that they will oppose MTN’s counter application,” said an MTN spokesperson.

A date for the hearing has yet to be set.

What will happen?

Asked what the outcome would be if they win or lose, MTN’s head of corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan said they would prefer not to speculate.

However, MTN and Cell C emphasised they are not looking to have the regulations scrapped. They are both committed to fully complying with the regulations, they stated.

All the networks want is for the deadline to be extended, and Cell C said it has asked for a six-month extension for all operators.

As an alternative, it also asked the court to direct ICASA to engage with service providers within 30 days of the court order to determine a reasonable period within which to comply with the obligations in the amended regulations.

In the event they lose, Cell C said ICASA will have to undertake the necessary process in terms of the regulations to assess non-compliance.

Rain Mobile is not currently affected by the regulations, as it does not offer data bundles on its network.

Now read: ICASA’s big plans for data prices in South Africa

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Mobile networks heading to court over out-of-bundle regulations fight