South Africa: Icasa’s data expiry plan: operators react

South Africa: Icasa’s data expiry plan: operators react

Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom have all responded to communications regulator Icasa’s plan to force networks to change the way they expire users’ data, saying they will work with the regulator as it goes through the process.

Icasa on Monday published draft regulations that, if implemented in final form, will prevent telecommunications operators from expiring users’ data for up to 24 months and introduce tough new rules on when and how they allow customers to go out of bundle.

The regulations could have a big impact on mobile providers, which have developed pricing based on data expiry that’s often as short as 30 days — and sometimes even shorter.

“Vodacom is committed to bringing down data prices and has brought down effective data pricing by 44% over the last three years,” it said.Asked for comment on the draft regulations, Vodacom told TechCentral on Tuesday that the company will “actively participate in Icasa’s consultation process”.

“Through the likes of Just4You, which offers customers hourly, daily, weekly and monthly bundles, Vodacom has made significant inroads in recent years in its pricing transformation journey.”

In the draft regulations, which operators have until 19 September to respond to, Icasa has proposed that data bundles have expiry periods as follows:

  • 1-50MB: 10 days
  • 50-500MB: 30 days
  • 500MB-1GB: 60 days
  • 1-5GB: 90 days
  • 5-10GB: 180 days
  • 10-20GB: 12 months
  • 20GB and more: 24 months

Among other things, the draft regulations state that operators must provide a mechanism for end users to opt into or opt out of bundle charges when their data bundle is depleted and they must ensure that end users are sent data depletion notifications at regular intervals.

The notifications must be sent at 50%, 75%, 90% and 100% depletion of data bundles. Consumers must not be defaulted automatically to out-of-bundle data charges upon depletion of a bundle.

Where someone does not opt in or out of out-of-bundle data usage when their data bundle has been depleted, operators must automatically disconnect them from out-of-bundle data usage until such time that they give their express authorisation to do otherwise.

“With regard to out-of-bundle billing, Vodacom reiterates its position on this matter in that it remains fully committed to addressing these and has already started to implement its plans,” the operator told TechCentral.

“We remain committed to consulting with the regulator in our shared quest to continuously address customer needs and improve the customer experience.”

For its part, Cell C said it is in the process of studying the draft regulations. “Once we have had the opportunity to properly interrogate the document, we will make a comment. Obviously, Cell C will make submissions to the regulator within the stipulated timeframe.”

MTN, meanwhile, said it is “applying its mind to the proposed amendments and will submit comments to Icasa within the stipulated deadline”.

Telkom said its “subject matter experts are in receipt of the draft that was published yesterday and are now in the process of scrutinising the same”.

“We will comment on it when it is appropriate to do so. Telkom has consistently reviewed its products and pricing and will continue to do so with due consideration for any and all mechanisms that are aimed at further reducing the cost to communicate.”

Source: NewsCentral Media (Tech Central)