The Wireless Access Providers’ Association (WAPA) said it supports proposed regulations that will enforce a minimum validity of three years for data bundles.
WAPA chair Tim Genders made the statement at recent public hearings held by the ICASA on the matter.
ICASA’s hearings on the draft End-User and Subscriber Service Charter regulations were aimed at dealing with out-of-bundle billing, bundle expiry, and data rollover.
Genders, who is also the chief operations officer of Project Isizwe, said that wireless service providers would “absolutely” be happy to be subject to the same regulations as mobile operators.
WAPA’s support for ICASA’s plan was surprising, as other network operators were opposed to the proposed regulations – warning they would result in a hike in the price of prepaid data bundles.
“I don’t see the logic in expiring data. Data isn’t milk,” said Genders.
He also argued that data in South Africa was more expensive than several other African nations, citing a study they had conducted.
Genders said that as an industry association they could not say how much wireless ISPs in South Africa charge for data top-ups.
However, as Project Isizwe, he said they do not offer top-ups. If you reach your daily cap of 500MB on Tshwane’s free Wi-Fi network, for example, “you’re done for the day”.
In addition to signalling WAPA’s support for the proposed regulations, Genders advocated for additional regulations to be imposed on mobile network operators to build free Wi-Fi hotspots.
Genders proposed that mobile networks should build one Wi-Fi hotspot in an underserved area for every tower they operate.