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Communications regulator lobbying for data to last for 3 years in South Africa

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So it seems South Africa is much more serious about their #DataMustFall campaign than I thought. Just read an article on MyBroadband on how Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is lobbing for all licensed Mobile Network Operators in SA to have data bundles which have a minimum expiry period of 3 years.

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3 years!

Imagine having to buy data bundles today and then only needing to reload them in 2020. Of course there’s the aspect of depleting them before the expiry date but to me that’s minor. Given a choice between two packages, my key make or break factor is often the period each is valid for than the quantity of data being offered.

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Well yes, that’s a good deal but we forgetting the ecosystem is incomplete without the supplier, in this case the MNO. We often concentrate on data falling so much that we forget to consider what it would mean for the mobile operator’s business.

I know most are not too quick to consider the MNO but remember how well its business does directly affects you as a consumer, well ideally that is, because some MNOs will always spike their prices regardless of how great their profit margins are. Nonetheless, what’s definite is that if a business is not making any profit let alone making enough to sustain itself, it will close shop.

I know in Zimbabwe most profits are made by leveraging on validity period than on quantity. They don’t mind giving you 2Gigs for $3 as long as it’s going to be valid for 24 hours. If you want more or less the same quantity of data but only lasting longer, say for a month, then be ready to fork out as much as $50. So obviously, the tendency would be for consumers to buy the 24 hour one.

Now imagine how much losses the MNOs here would make if POTRAZ, the equivalent of ICASA in Zimbabwe was to force all MNOs to extend their bundles to be valid for a minimum of 3 years? They would certainly close shop. I mean in SA it could work considering the population size (about 4 times ours) and their disposable income per individual is obviously more than ours.

Other interesting adjustments that ICASA is proposing for South African MNOs include the ability of a customer to rollover their unused data (not sure why that will be necessary given you’re already being given 3 years to deplete it); the consumer to be notified of their usage at 50%, 75%, 90%, and 100% depletion; and finally the consumer must be given an option to opt-in or opt-out of being charged out-of-bundle data rates (in our case, Econet’s already on it).

Nevertheless, it would be interesting to know how that works out for South Africa… In the mean time, what do you think?

 

 


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