09 December 2018


THE OFFICIAL BOKONE BOPHIRIMA GOVERNMENT NEWSPAPER

Your data will not expire…but no price reduction yet

by: Nthusang Lefafa   date: 04 May 2018

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa  (ICASA) has announced that
your data will no longer expire and you can transfer it to other users as long as you are on the same network provider with them.
The new regulations, set to be gazetted in the coming days, will require cellphone
companies to notify subscribers when their data falls below 50%, 80% and
100% depletion levels; to rollover unused data; to allow the transfer of data within a
network and to stop charging expensive out-of-bundle rates without the customer’s
knowledge. But ICASA did not specify how long unused data could be rolled
over and this decision might just be left to
the National Consumer Commission.
Advocacy group, Right2Know, welcomed  ICASA’s announcement, but said
the communications authority should rather focus on ensuring that mobile
network operators reduce the high cost of data. ICASA said it was not ready to
make an announcement on when data costs will be reduced, but it will do so
only after further consultation with the
relevant stakeholders. 
In the last set of draft regulations (published
in November 2017), ICASA had proposed enforcing an expiry period of a
minimum of three years for data bundles but backed away from this position in the
final regulations. ICASA said network operators must
also provide consumers with an option to transfer data to other end users, provided
they are on the same network. Furthermore,
they must conduct educational awareness campaigns aimed at informing end users about the use of smartphones
and how to use data.
It is up to service providers and network operators to determine the rules around
data rollover, with communications regulator,
ICASA, saying its new regulations dealing with data expiry are not “overly
prescriptive” on the subject. In practice, service providers, including
mobile operators, will only have to roll over data for a period that is left entirely
to their discretion.
“Our role as the regulator is to ensure that all South Africans have access to a
wide range of communication services at
affordable prices. In order to achieve this, ICASA is mandated by Chapter 10 of the
Electronic Communications Act (ECA) 
to ensure that there is competition in the sector,” ICASA said in a statement.
“In order to enhance this competition,
the authority is required to follow an extensive
regulatory process that includes consultation with all relevant stakeholders.
The process involves defining markets,
identification of licensees with significant market power (where the defined
markets are found to be ineffectively
competitive) and impose proportionate
pro-competitive remedies, including price controls,” the communications authority
said.
In short, ICASA has regulatory powers to regulate competition in any of the markets
within the Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector of South
Africa. This is only after following extensive market review processes highlighted
in Chapter 10 of the ECA.