The telecommunications regulator says service providers MTN‚ Vodacom and Cell C must provide an option to roll over unused data‚ ending the frustration of customers losing unused data after 30 days.
The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) made the announcement in Sandton on Thursday when it released its review of the 2016 End User and Subscriber Charter Regulations.
Icasa said the new regulations on data usage would allow users to keep the data so long as they remained active in the network.
The fundamental changes announced on Thursday by Icasa councillor Bontlenyana Mokhele include subscribers having to receive notifications on data usage‚ users being able to roll over data. It also includes users being able to transfer data to other users in the same network and network providers not being allowed to charge out-of-bundle rates for data when it runs out without consent.
“There are two things that we are trying to address with the regulations. The first one is to ensure that you don’t automatically get defaulted to out-of-bundle rates.
“It gives you leeway to use your 1G (for example) upon expiry‚ you will have an option to renew because there will be notifications along the way. Or if you don’t expand it for the period that it is for‚ you’ll have an option to either share it with someone or roll it over to the next period‚” Mokhele said.
“The effect of the regulation is that it will not have an expiry date until you have used it up‚ as long as you are active in your SIM and keep recharging.
“Our target market are people that buy smaller bundles in as far as the poorest of the poor. Chances are they will use up the data‚ but what we are offering them now is for them to have an indefinite access to that data should they remain active users of networks‚” Mokhele said.
Icasa published the draft regulations on data usage for public comment in August last year‚ as the nation decried the cost of data in the country.
After submissions were made‚ second draft regulations were published in November for public consultation. It was after taking submissions into account that Icasa arrived at the new regulations announced on Thursday in Sandton.
The new regulations will be effective a month after they have been published in the government gazette.
In terms of the new regulations:
-all licensees are required to send depletion notifications to consumers when their usage is 50%‚ 80% and 100% depleted;
-all licensees are required to provide an option to consumers to roll over unused data to ensure that consumers don’t lose unused data;
-all licensees are required to provide an option to consumers to transfer data to other users on the same network.
-all licensees are no longer allowed to charge consumers out of bundle rates for data when data has run out without specific consent. This will ensure that consumers are not defaulted to out of bundle data charges which are higher than in-bundle charges.