South Africa is 10 days away from new data regulations – with mobile customers soon to be spared from out of bundle charges, unless they choose to opt in.
The amended End User and Subscriber Services Charter (EUSSC) Regulations will come into effect on 1 March, which will prevent mobile operators from automatically charging out of bundle data rates for customers who do not opt in to the service.
The regulations also state that mobile operators must send usage depletion notifications (SMSes) as customers consume their data bundles.
According to the amended regulations published on Tuesday (12 February), these usage depletion notifications must be sent via SMS, push notification or ‘any other applicable means’, at depletion levels of 50%, 80% and 100%.
End-users must also be provided with an option to opt-out of voice and SMS usage notifications.
Cell C said it has implemented the bulk of the changes, and its customers will have seen the new notifications service, the additional rollover facility and data transfer.
Additional requirements announced by Icasa on 12 February, however, are still under review.
From 1 March, Cell C said it will be turning on the feature that prevents customers from making use of the out-of-bundle (OOB) facility for data, unless they opt into OOB usage.
“This is the most significant change that will have the widest impact on mobile consumers,” the group said.
From March, mobile data users will be able to opt-in or set limits to OOB spend by using Cell C’s Spend Control service, which allows customers to completely manage their OOB usage – whether it be for data, voice or SMS.
“Customers can opt-in on the Cell C App or via USSD. If customers opt-in before the 1 March deadline, they will not be asked to do so again,” the group said.
Cell C warned that customers who don’t opt-in by the deadline may find themselves in a situation where they don’t have access to any data once their data bundle runs out – even if airtime is available or they are on an open contract.
“The amount of airtime they can access or amount they can choose for OOB data usage on their contract is tied to the rand value they assign to their OOB data limit using Spend Control.
“For example, if a customer sets an OOB limit to R100, they can use up to R100 to continue using data once their bundle runs out,” it said.
“It’s up to customers to determine how their cell phone spend will work, according to their budget and in order to avoid running out of data. However, customers will need to opt-in to get the benefits of the Spend Control function and to make sure they are never without data, SMSes or call time when they need it the most.”