New mobile data rules: Relief coming for consumers as Icasa settles case with Cell C, MTN

Android smartphone. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Android smartphone. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

New regulations hailed as a victory for consumers, who have for years been battling disappearing data and automatic out-of-bundle pricing, will only come into effect by the end of February.

This was confirmed by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) on Wednesday after it announced that it reached a settlement with Cell C and MTN over the implementation of the regulations.

The companies challenged the matter in court in June to seek a six-month extension to the June 8 compliance date to the regulations.
The settlement included that “the End-User and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations 2018 be implemented from 28 February 2019”, Icasa said in a statement.

“Icasa is pleased that there is now certainty on the effective date of the regulations,” said Icasa CEO Willington Ngwepe.

“This is important as the regulations provide much needed relief to consumers by prescribing minimum standards of service in terms of which licensees are compelled to allow data roll-over, data transfer and most importantly to cease the automatic charging of out of bundle rates,” said Ngwepe.

Cell C requested a six months extension to comply with the regulations which were announced in April.

The regulator said it had decided to defend the matter “on the basis that it is required, in terms of its legislative mandate, to act and regulate in the public interest (particularly consumers)”.

The settlement paves the way for the implementation of the regulation, which would force mobile phone companies to allow data roll-over, transfer of data and prohibit service providers to charge out of bundle charges without the consumer consent.

The regulator says it had decided to defend the matter “on the basis that it is required, in terms of its legislative mandate, to act and regulate in the public interest (particularly consumers).”

The settlement paves the way for the implementation of the regulation which would force mobile phone companies to all data roll over, transfer of data and prohibit service providers to charge out of bundle charges without the customer consent.

The regulations were hailed as victory for millions of consumers who have for years been battling disappearing data and automatic out-of-bundle pricing.

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