Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has revised its end-user and subscriber-service charter regulations, which, among other things, aim to reduce internet data costs for consumers.

The regulations call for network operators to provide adequate notification to consumers when voice, SMS and data bundles get depleted.

The regulations were part of a series of interventions that Icasa planned to implement to ensure that the cost of communication was reduced to "acceptable levels to the ultimate benefit of consumers", it said.

"The review of the regulations was necessitated by general concerns raised by various stakeholders, including consumer groups and social media campaigns, with regards to data expiry rules, high out-of-bundle rates and rules and also out-of-bundle voice and SMS rules," Icasa councillor Botlenyana Mokhele announced.

In the first draft of the regulations, published in August, Icasa received 20 comments from telecommunications companies and individuals.

One concern raised related to the provision that consumers be notified of service depletion at set intervals.

Other issues included that customers on contract, pre-paid and hybrid plans be allowed to purchase additional services or bundles upon depletion and that they must be disconnected if they do not buy additional bundles instead of being charged out-of-bundle rates ( for example, charging them from airtime for data).

Moreover, the expiry of data bundles is to be linked to the bundle size. Licensed service providers must also conduct four educational awareness campaigns a year.

The regulator said the revised regulations and provisions were aimed at minimising shock when customers received bills for out-of-bundle voice and SMS charges.

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