The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has finally made a decision on the future of data for mobile users, and it is definitely looking up. The new regulations state that mobile data shouldn’t expire.
Initially, the regulator’s draft regulation of data bundles proposed that data should expire in a tier-system depending on how much data was bought. For example: 50MB would last ten days while 20GB would only expire after two years, but that proposed system would unfairly discriminatory against the poorer users who tend to buy smaller bundles, and who would benefit from the most from longer expiration periods.
The follow-up draft proposed regulations for data bundles that would see them valid for three years, but now Icasa has decided not to set a prescribed expiry date at all.
Thankfully, consumers now needn’t worry about the regulator changing its mind again — this ruling is final and will be published in the Government Gazette next week. Additional guidelines have been put in place to ensure consumers aren’t hit by hefty out-of-bundle rates should they exhaust their data bundles.
Another of the pressing issues was the sky high out-of-bundle rate that could see consumers airtime eaten into when their bundles had run out, an issue that’s previously (and quite understandably) had consumers’ blood boiling.
Now, operators have to send their customers a usage depletion notification (either via SMS or a push notification) when they’ve used 50%, 80% and 100% of their data bundle.
Also, if you don’t intend to use the data you’ll now be able to send the data to another user on the same network.
Although this doesn’t affect the price of data bundles, which are arguably still too high, it goes some way to addressing the concerns of the #datamustfall movement, and is a welcome move towards protecting end users’ rights as consumers.