Wednesday, March 3

ICASA drops data expiration bombshell


ICASA, the the communications regulator, has released a proposed draft which could drastically change the way networks deal with mobile data.

Local networks have created data pricing structures which allow data to expire every 30 days – at times even less – if not used. ICASA’s proposal “intends to amend End-user and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations 2016 published in Government Gazette.”

The proposal states that in terms of voice and SMS services:

  • A Licensee* must send notifications for voice and SMS usage intervals to an end-user, the intervals must show 50%, 75%, 90% and 100% service depletion. The notification must be through SMS or any other applicable means.
  • A Licensee must provide end-users who are on post-paid / hybrid tariff plans with an option to buy additional voice services or SMS services upon depletion of such services.
  • Where an end-user who is on a post-paid / hybrid tariff plan does not buy additional voice services or SMS services, the licensee will disconnect the end-user from access to services and allow such endusers to only use emergency services and customer care services.

In terms of data usage:

  • A Licensee must provide a mechanism for end-users to opt-in for or opt-out of bundle charges when their data bundle is depleted.
  • A Licensee must ensure that an end-user is:
    • sent data depletion notifications on regular intervals through SMS, USSD or any other applicable means, the interval must show 50%, 75%, 90% and 100% depletion of data bundles; sent warning notifications when his / her data bundle has completely run out or is depleted;
    • provided with an option to buy additional data bundles upon depletion of his / her allocated data through the USSD platform or any other applicable means;
    • not defaulted automatically to out of bundle data charges upon depletion of his / her data bundles; and
    • provided an option through SMS, USSD or any other applicable means to opt-in or opt-out of data bundle usage.
  • Where an end-user does not opt-in or opt-out of out of bundle data usage when his / her data bundle has been depleted, a Licensee must automatically disconnect the end-user from out of bundle data usage until such time that the end-user gives express consent or authorization.

The proposal also stipulates a validity period for mobile data to which networks must agree:

Data bundle size Validity
1 MB – 50MB 10 days
50MB – 500 MB 30 days
500MB – 1 Gig 60 days
1Gig – 5 Gig 90 days
5 Gig – 10 Gig 180 days
10 Gig – 20Gig 12 months
20 Gig >  24 months

As well as stating that networks must notify its end-users with expiry of their data period within seven (7) days prior to expiry date of such data.

Interested parties have 30 days from the date of the proposal having been issued (30 August 2017) to comment.


*Licensee refers to the networks


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