Following an urgent application by Cell C seeking to postpone incoming data regulations, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has confirmed it will be defending the application.
Cell C filed the application at the South Gauteng High Court on Wednesday, seeking a postponement of the implementation of the End-User and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations published on 07 May 2018. The regulations are due to come into effect on 8 June.
The recently-published amendments – which include forcing networks to let users roll over unused mobile data, transfer data to other subscribers, and not charge OOB rates by default – came with a one-month window in which they had to be implemented.
However, Cell C was not the only mobile operator who expressed concerns about the tight timeframes, with other industry players also requesting an extension of the date of implementation. Cell C had requested a six month extension to comply with the regulations.
“It is important to note that the End-User and Subscriber Service Charter Amendment Regulations of 2016 was necessitated by the general concerns about, amongst others, the unfair business rules imposed by licensees in the provision of data services to consumers,” Icasa said.
“In particular, the regulations seek to grant consumers relief against expiry of data, bill shock occasioned by lack of transparency on out-of-bundle charges and other rules which are prejudicial to consumers.
“The effect of the extension would be that consumers will continue to be prejudiced by the continued application of the impugned business rules. This would mean consumers will for the foreseeable period of the extension not be able to carry over their unused data and will continue to be charged high out-of-bundle rates without their consent,” it said.
Icasa added that it was obligated, in terms of its legislative mandate, to act and regulate in the public interest (particularly consumers).
“It is Icasa’s view that granting such an extension would not be in the public interest. Hence, the decision to refuse the extension.
“Icasa has decided that it will defend the application by Cell C and to this end, has resolved to postpone the effective date until the matter has been heard and pronounced upon by the court. During this intervening period licensees will not be penalised for non-compliance,” it said.