Icasa Councillor Botlenyana Mokhele (middle), chief executive Wellington Ngwepe (right) pictured in Sandton during the communications regulator's media briefing on new mobile network regulations following its decision on the review of the End-User and Subscriber Services Charter (Pic: Icasa Twitter)

JOHANNESBURG - The National Consumer Commission (NCC) said on Thursday that it would study the final regulations issued by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) to determine if they are in line with the Consumer Protection Act before commenting on them.

Icasa on Thursday issued new regulations which seek to prohibit mobile network providers from charging out-of-bundle tariffs without the consent of their subscribers in a bid to regulate runaway data prices.  

According to the new regulations, among others, mobile network service providers must send usage depletion notifications to customers when their usage is at 50, 80 and 100 percent depletion levels so that they can avoid using their airtime.

Icasa also said that providers are also required to give customers the option to rollover unused data in a bid to ensure that customers do not lose unused data as is the current practice.

In a statement, the NCC said that in respect of pre-paid data, unused data should not expire unless three years has lapsed, or the data has been used up. 

The NCC also said that in respect of post-paid data, unused data must be carried over for the duration of a consumer's contract with a network provider.

NCC Commissioner Ebrahim Mohamed said that the organisation's views are in line with the provisions of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA), which is the primary legislation in the country when it comes to protection of consumers.

"We will express our views and approach to whatever the outcomes of Icasa's process in the course of next week, and want to assure consumers that we have not changed our stance on the matter," Mohamed said.

"Our mandate is to ensure that consumer rights are protected. The CPA is applicable to all transactions, including those for pre and post-paid data."

Icasa said that the new regulations will come into effect after one month from publication and service providers are required to implement the regulations. 

The full regulations will be published on Monday next week on the Icasa website and then on the Government Gazette.

- African News Agency