The country’s communications watchdog, the Independent Communications Authority of SA, will postpone the implementation of new data rules.
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.
On Thursday, Cell C disclosed that it is heading to court to seek interdict against the country’s communications watchdog to postpone the implementation of the new rules.
But Paseka Maleka, ICASA’s spokesperson said late on Thursday, that ICASA has decided that it will defend the application by Cell C and to this end.
Maleka added that the communications watchdog has resolved to postpone the effective date until the matter has been heard and pronounced upon by the court.
During this intervening period, Maleka said that licensees will not be penalized for non-compliance.
ICASA is required, 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,” said Maleka.
Maleka added that the review application comes against the backdrop of Cell C (and the other industry players) requesting an extension of the date of implementation of the Regulations.
Cell C had requested six months 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,” Maleka explains.
“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, said Maleka, adding that 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.
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.