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March 2021 1st edition

Proposed changes to data costs hailed

Written by Nonkululeko Mathebula

Data users throughout the country can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that their data can be carried over to the next month instead of it being depleted.

That is after an announcement by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) concerning new regulations which will govern the rules on mobile data expiry and out of bundle billing.Tshegofatso Seleke from Roodeport in Gauteng says she is pleased with the new announcement made by ICASA on data.

South African’s have responded with relief.  Speaking to Vuku’zenzele Tshegofatso Seleke from Roodeport in Gauteng says she is pleased with the new announced.

“I think it’s good that we can now roll-over data to the next month but I feel like we also need the price of data to go down. The decision not to take our airtime after our data is depleted is also great but data remains expensive,” says Seleke.

ICASA CEO Willington Ngwepe said the regulatory body is not ready to announce whether data costs will be reduced adding that the decision will only be made after further consultation.

“We deliberately stayed away from pricing issues and that’s primarily because the regulations of prices require a much more detailed market review process in terms of the legislature,” he said.

Ngwepe said the regulatory body will now go into the cost analysis on what informs prices charged in the market before making an announcement on future data costs.

Siyabulela Sithole from Midrand also in Gauteng also told Vuk’uzenzele that he appreciates the progress on the issue of data.

“I like the fact that there is something that the government is doing to help us as consumers and save us from what service providers have been doing,” he said.

 “I say big ups to the government and big ups to ICASA and I think they should do more,” said Sithole.

The regulations announced include the following:

Usage notifications – All licensed data providers are required to send usage depletion notifications to consumers when their usage is at 50, 80 and 100 percent depletion levels. This will enable consumers to monitor their usage and control their expenditure on communication services.

Rollover of data – Licensed data providers are now required to supply an option to consumers to rollover unused data. This is to ensure that consumers do not miss out on unused data as is the case presently.

Transfer of data – Licensed data providers are required to provide an option to consumers to allow them to transfer data to other users on the same network.

Out of bundle billion – Licensed data providers will no longer be allowed to charge consumers out of bundle rates for data when their data has run out without the consumer’s specific consent. This will ensure that consumers are not defaulted to out of bundle data charges which are significantly higher than ‘in-bundle’ charges.

The new regulations will be effective a month after they have been published in the government gazette.