Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

New draft regulations on data have been welcomed, but industry commentators say they could’ve done more to help consumers battling to cope with expensive data‚ which has been singled out as an obstacle to economic growth.

Data costs‚ disappearing data and the expiration of data have been major talking points in recent months‚ with former Metro FM DJ Tbo Touch leading the way for the #DataMustFall campaign and more consumers speaking out about data bundles disappearing and expiring after certain times.

In July‚ Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba outlined 14 key areas of economic growth prospects‚ and the issue of the high cost of data in South Africa was directed to the Competition Commission to investigate.

On Monday‚ the Independent Communications Authority Of South Africa (Icasa) published recommendations that include keeping data valid for up to two years.

The regulations suggest expiry periods for the following data bundles:

• 1MB to 50MB: after 10 days

• 50MB to 500MB: after 30 days

• 500MB to 1GB: after 60 days

• 1GB to 5GB: after 90 days

• 5GB to 10GB: after 180 days

• 10GB to 20GB: after 12 months

• 20GB or more: after 24 months

The rest of the draft regulations can be reviewed in a government gazette published earlier this week.

Technology journalist Adam Oxford‚ however‚ said it wasn’t enough.

"I personally don’t think they go far enough to be honest. It is nice that they introduced these dates‚ but they should go further and say there is no reason for data to disappear‚" he said.

"It is quite an issue to people in the lower income brackets who can still only buy small amounts of data. The problem is it is still punishing the people with less money to spend‚" Oxford said.

"There is no reason for data to disappear‚" he said.

Technology analyst Simon Dingle described the situation as "a tricky one"‚ saying he knew the big players in the industry would be making submissions to Icasa.

"My hope is that some consumer groups and the public make submissions as well‚" he said.

Icasa spokesperson Paseka Maleka said they expected submissions from all the major players in the industry‚ and invited the public to make submissions as well.

"We have been engaging with all the major players and it is open for anyone to make submissions. Icasa would like this process to be done as quickly as possible‚" he said.

Maleka said there were different ongoing processes to address data costs‚ disappearing data and the expiry of data.

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