From the beginning of March, South Africans have to be warned if they use out-of-bundle data, and they will also be able to roll over data.
These are some of the new rules contained in Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa)’s end-user and subscriber service charter.
Icasa regulates all South African cellular network providers.
The new rules include that a cellphone provider can't just automatically switch you over to out-of-bundle use - you have to agree to it first. This is to avoid a shock in your bill at the end of the month.
Cellphone providers also have to allow you to roll over unused data before the expiry date and allow you to transfer data to other clients who use the same provider.
South Africa has some of the most expensive data prices on the continent, and out-of-bundle rates were in some cases 2,639% more expensive than in other countries.
The new rules also require that companies send you 50%, 80% and 100% data depletion notices.
Business Insider South Africa looked at how Icasa’s new rules will affect clients of the country’s four biggest cellular networks from March 1.
All customers will have the option to roll over remaining data bundles for a fee. The fee will be based on the amount of data remaining and the duration of the data that is being rolled over.
If you have more than 1GB left, you will be charged R49.
The default setting will also be that data sessions will be terminated once a consumer goes out-of-bundle.
To continue using data, consumers will have a number of options, including purchasing new bundles.
Consumers will also be able to transfer expiring data to friends and family on the Vodacom network.
MTN said it has been offering data rollover for a number of years, and therefore is already fully compliant.
Contract customers can already roll over data automatically up until two months of the date of purchase.
Prepaid costumers’ data bundles will be rolled over, as long as the customer buys another bundle before the existing one expires.
The country’s third largest cellular network said data for contract customers will automatically roll over to the next month, for a maximum period of two months, at no extra cost.
The oldest data will be used first, to ensure that the current month’s data can be rolled over to the next month.
After two months passed, users will have the option to extend unused data at a cost which is yet to be released. 500MB is the maximum amount which will be rolled over at no extra cost after two months.
For prepaid customers, recurring data bundles will automatically roll over to the next month at no additional cost.
Thereafter, 500mb can be rolled over for an additional day. For larger bundles, a nominal fee is payable for the additional time.
All free data, reward data, promo data and service-specific bundles such as WhatsApp is, however, excluded from being rolled over.
All of Icasa’s regulations have already been implemented at Telkom, the cellular network said.
All FreeMe subscribers are being redirected to the Out of Bundle page when their data allocation is depleted, Telkom said.
By December 1, 2018, an option to opt into or out of out-of-bundle usage was implemented, data extension periods introduced and transfer of data on the Telkom network allowed.
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