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    August 18, 2017

    ICASA proposes aggressive new mobile data regulations in South Africa

    icasa new government data regulations

    ICASA has proposed new mobile data regulations which, if approved, would see mobile networks offer wider validity periods for data bundles.

    Though South African government has promised regulations surrounding the price and use of mobile data remains on its agenda, we’ve yet to see new legislation in the wake of last year’s #DataMustFall movement. Now, ICASA has proposed stringent new regulations that – if approved – would have massive consequences for the operations of mobile networks.

    Chief among ICASA’s proposed regulations is the fact that mobile networks would be forced to set pre-determined validity periods for data bundles, wherein networks would be mandated to warn users at least seven days before a set expiry period.

    Read: Zuma weighs in on data during his State of the Nation, but what’s the plan?

    The move is notable, as it would ensure that consumers with active data bundles would see any unused data roll over into a following month. For example, ICASA has suggested that data bundles between 1MB-50MB should last just 10 days, while consumers who purchased more than 20GB of mobile data should be rewarded with a wide validity period of 24 months.

    The full list of proposed validity periods per data bundle size is as follows:

    • 1MB-50MB: 10 days
    • 50MB-100MB: 30 days
    • 500MB-1GB: 60 days
    • 1GB-5GB: 90 days
    • 5GB-10GB: 180 days
    • 10GB-20GB: 12 months
    • 20GB+: 24 months

    Beyond these proposed regulations, ICASA has suggested a mandate that would see mobile networks issue SMS notifications to consumers when they reach certain thresholds as they deplete their voice, SMS, and data bundles; namely, network operators would have to issue alerts as consumers reach 50%, 75%, 90%, and 100% of their total threshold.

    On the proposed regulation, ICASA offered that “Where an end-user does not opt-in or opt-out of out-of-bundle data usage when a 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 authorisation.” 

    The Authority further offered that “A Licensee must ensure that an end-user is not defaulted automatically to out-of-bundle data charges upon depletion of data bundles” – meaning that, should the proposed regulations be approved, networks would not be able to immediately issue consumers with additional expense should they surpass their monthly data bundle.

    The laws would come into effect once published in the Government Gazette, and South Africans have been given thirty days to comment from the 7th of August. The entirety of the proposed changes can be read here.

    Read: Vodacom vs Cell C vs MTN vs Telkom Mobile: Who offers the best data bundles?

    What are your thoughts on ICASA’s proposed regulations? Be sure to let us know your opinion in the comments below!

    Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA

    Listen in to our latest podcast!

    • Nazeem Martin

      Hi Bryan, Firstly Thank you for this blog it is very informative. I have a question around the “Carry-Over Rule”, as applied to data bundles where certain mobile companies use the “LIFO” (Last in first out) rule. Meaning that your new data bundle are used first, before the carry-over data are consume. Is there any legislation in the pipeline to change this to “FIFO”. (First in first out)? Thank You Nazeem