South Africa’s mobile phone operator Cell C is heading to court to seek interdict against the country’s communications watchdog ICASA.
The communications watchdog published its amended End-User and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations on 7 May 2018, and provided operators with one month to comply with the new rules.
Prior to publication, Cell C said in a statement that it advised the regulator that while it was fully committed to complying with the regulations, it was impossible to meet the proposed timeline.
Despite this, ICASA issued the regulations with the one month timeframe still included, this while the process leading up to the publication of the regulations took almost 14 months to be concluded.
Cell C added that it has on numerous occasions raised this with ICASA and has written to them to ask for an extension. With less than 24 hours until the deadline, Cell C has not had any response from ICASA.
“All of this leaves Cell C no choice but to turn to the Courts to intervene as ICASA’s failure to respond could have serious consequences for Cell C, the industry and more importantly the consumer. As such, Cell C has reluctantly applied for an urgent interdict at the High Court in a bid to procure a reasonable timeline for implementation of the regulations,” the company said on Thursday.
The End-User and Subscriber Services Charter was developed with the customer in mind.
Cell C said it is fully committed to implementing the requested changes. “Even before the publication, Cell C was compliant with many of the provisions and tried its utmost to meet the unreasonable deadline.”
“For example, Cell C has for many years notified customers on the depletion of their data bundles, ensuring that customers are aware of how much data they still have available in-bundle. Cell C also offers data rollover on some of its packages.”
However, the company explained that to fully implement the necessary changes across its entire product suite, intensive development and numerous system changes will need to be made followed by rigorous testing before Cell C can offer this to its customers.
“As a result, Cell C and its vendors are technically not able to meet the deadline set by ICASA. Cell C’s billing and other technical platforms are highly complex and rely on one another to operate effectively which means that a change in one system often results in changes being required in other systems,” the company said.
“Furthermore, changes to the billing system require a cycle of development to ensure rigorous governance and control measures are met.”
Cell C said it would be surprised if any of the mobile operators will be fully compliant by Friday’s deadline.
To do this effectively, without disrupting the customer and causing unforeseen consequences, Cell C said it expects that it will need at least six months to properly comply.
Cell C would like to reiterate that it remains fully committed to complying with the requirements and is only asking for a reasonable amount of time to execute these complex changes on its systems to the benefit of customers.