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ICASA Draft Regulations On End-User Data Costs And Data Expiration

ICASA Draft Regulations On End-User Data Costs And Data Expiration

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) intends, under Section 4 of the Electronic Communications Act 36 of 2005, to amend the End-user and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations of 2016. Written representations should be submitted to the Authority within thirty (30) working days from the date of the publication on the notice for consideration.

Among other provisions, the draft regulations state that operators will be required to provide a mechanism for end-users to opt into or opt out of bundle charges when their data bundle is depleted and would ensure that end-users are sent data depletion notifications at regular intervals. The authority has proposed that data bundles between 1GB and 5G should remain valid for 90 days, while bigger bundles, such as 20GB and more, should remain valid for 24 months or longer. It prescribes that users should additionally be provided with an option to roll over unused data before the expiry date. Notifications are to be sent to the consumer at 50%, 75%, 90% and 100% depletion of data bundles status. The draft policy document proposes that the consumer should not automatically be defaulted to out-of-bundle data charges upon depletion of a data bundle.

Service providers and ICASA can expect further pressure from consumers. Consumers have argued that data bundles should not expire and should be billed based on the amount used. Another contention is that by extending the duration of large quantity data bundles and shortening that of small bundles purchased, serves to marginalise poor people who struggle to gain access to communications. The #DataMustFall movement has gained traction in terms of its position on the cost of communications; it can be expected that the provisions of this Regulation will be challenged for further purchase price reduction.

Itumeleng Makgetla

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