The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has publicised its decision on data prices today after an extensive consultation process.
Consumers have been unhappy about the high cost of data and the expiry of data bundles in the country. They have accused network operators of ripping them off.
Icasa has conducted numerous public hearings with all stakeholders and civil society to draft regulations on data spending and compared the cost of data within BRICS nations, as requested by the public.
That process has been completed, and it is now for Icasa to publicise the regulations and to implement those regulations.
Icasa says that, while the regulations do not seek to directly or indirectly regulate costs, they improve regulations around data, SMS and voice services.
They have released the following regulations:
- Service providers must notify users when their data falls below 50%, 80% and 100%, saying “this will enable consumers to monitor their usage and control spend on communication services”.
- Users will now be allowed to carry over unused data to next month. All licensees will be required to provide this option.
- It expects all network providers to allow consumers to transfer data to other users on the same network.
- Service providers will no longer be allowed to charge consumers out-of-bundle rates when data has run out without the consumers’ specific prior consent.
“After the regulations are published, service providers will be given a month to comply”, said Icasa CEO Wellington Ngwepe.
The regulations have not yet been gazetted.
Icasa compared the price of 500MB, 1GB and 2GB data packages in BRICS countries. South Africa’s prices are the third most expensive with 500MB costing $5.72. China is the most expensive at $28.75 on average for 500MB and Brazil is second with 500MB costing $6.64.
Icasa considered the average cost of data, also looking at the cheapest and most expensive data packages in each country.
In South Africa, the difference between the cheapest ($7.15) and most expensive 2GB package ($19.57) was as much as $12.42.
Icasa found that in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) the price of data in South Africa is below the average price of all the SADC prices across the data bundle categories. It is not the cheapest nor the most expensive.