The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has announced that it will begin a market inquiry into mobile broadband services.
In a statement on Friday (16 November), Icasa said that the purpose of the inquiry is to assess the state of competition and determine whether or not there are markets or market segments within the mobile broadband services value chain which may warrant regulation.
Icasa said that it will conduct the inquiry over a number of phases, including (among other steps) a questionnaire completed by market participants and stakeholders, the publication of a discussion document, and public hearings,.
It added that it will also look to include its own research and benchmarking exercises, and that it may even turn to the Competition Commission for assistance.
Icasa said it aims to finalise this inquiry in the 2019/2020 financial year.
New Data rules
The inquiry follows the announcement that Icasa, MTN and Cell C have reached an agreement on the implementation of the End-User and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations.
Originally scheduled to come into effect from June 2018, Icasa has confirmed that the regulations will now be implemented from 28 February 2019.
The new regulations mean that South Africa’s mobile operators may now no longer automatically start billing subscribers out-of-bundle tariffs when their data bundles are depleted.
Instead, they must present subscribers with the option to buy a new bundle, or agree to out-of-bundle billing – alongside usage depletion notifications (SMSes) as customers consume their data bundles.
Icasa also proposed that users’ mobile data must roll over if they do not deplete their bundles, and that consumers can transfer data to other subscribers on the same network.