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How The New ICASA Data Regulations Will Affect Mobile Users In South Africa

ICASA Data Regulations

From the 1st of March 2019, South African mobile users will be protected by new ICASA data regulations. ICASA – The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa – has released updated regulations that specifically target mobile data in South Africa, which will come into effect from 01 March 2019.

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The new ICASA data regulations are called the End-User and Subscriber Service Charter and specifically focus on mobile data, which is considered very expensive in South Africa as compared to other countries.

NOTE: This is an opinion and should not be taken as legal advice.

What The New ICASA Data Regulations Mean For Mobile Users

One of the main changes brought by the new ICASA data regulations is the requirement that data bundles be rolled over if not used. This new rule affects data bundles that are, for instance, time-sensitive and are required to be used within the specified time limit, or is gone. Once the new ICASA data regulations roll out, unused data has to be rolled over, even after the time-limit expired.

Another big change required by the new ICASA data regulations is that mobile users should be sent notifications when their data is being used. The ICASA regulations require that notifications via SMS, push notifications or another applicable way must be sent when data usage reaches 50%, 80% and when it’s completed used up. These include voice, data and other bundles purchased by the mobile user.

Mobile users are also now required to opt-in or opt-out of out-of-bundle data usage according to the new ICASA data regulations. This means that mobile service providers are no longer allowed to automatically let mobile users use out-of-bundle data and charge them as such.

The new ICASA data regulations also has a provision which requires mobile service providers to give mobile users the option to transfer their unused data to other users who are on the same mobile network. So if you still have 1GB of Vodacom data left over, which you don’t want to use, you can transfer it to someone who is also on the Vodacom network.

How Mobile Service Providers Are Responding

Before the new ICASA data regulations were even in effect, some of the mobile service providers amended their user agreements to make the new regulations work for them.

Vodacom specifically came under fire when it updated some of its terms of use to now charge users for rolling over unused data.

Vodacom has since removed the updated page to its terms of use and has stated that

We will communicate this on the planned launch date (March 1st).

ICASA held a special meeting to discuss Vodacom’s approach to the new ICASA data regulations and has noted that it will be investigating the approach taken by the mobile service provider, adding that:

The ICASA data regulations, meant to lower the amount of money consumers pay for data, could be rendered meaningless if people are expected to pay a levy for enjoying these benefits

Other mobile service providers, like MTN and Telkom have not made any official changes to their terms of use, but some of them are already semi-compliant by offering data rollovers and requiring permission to charge out-of-bundle fees.

Cell C will also be charging its costumers for extending their time-limited data. Data can be rolled over for a maximum of two months, after which the mobile service provider will be charging an undisclosed fee to extend the data.

How are you expecting to benefit from the new ICASA data regulations?

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