Network provider Vodacom has announced that it will “significantly reduce” out-of-bundle prices for all customers from mid-October.
“For pre-paid and customers on top-up packages, the out-of-bundle rate will drop by as much as 50% once the new 99c per megabyte tariff comes into effect on October 15.”The out-of-bundle rate for post-paid customers was reduced from R1 per megabyte to 89c on October 1,” the company said in a statement.
Group CEO of Vodacom Shameel Joosub said the company needs to expand 4G coverage and keep pace with an increase of more than 45% in sustained data traffic demand.
“Both of these come at a cost, and we have invested some R32.7bn over the last four years. However, lack of access to spectrum is hampering our ability to drive down infrastructure costs and in turn, enable us to pass savings to the consumer,” said Joosub.
Vodacom previously told Fin24 that it is committed to the process of drafting new regulations, after regulator Icasa said it would hold an inquiry in an attempt to reduce the country’s high data costs.
Vodacom joins Cell C, which recently responded to Icasa’s regulation of data by dropping out-of-bundle rates and extending bundle expiry.
In August it was announced that Icasa wanted to amend the End-user and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations by introducing “out-of-bundle billing practices” and other “expiry of data practices”.
Previously, the regulator announced it would hold an inquiry in an attempt to reduce high data costs.The probe will be conducted over four phases and will be completed in March 2018.
Kyle Venktess for Fin24
Vodacom is reimbursing subscribers who were affected by a billing issue on Monday night, the operator said on Twitter.
Customers took to social media last night, causing Vodacom to trend on Twitter, to complain about disappearing airtime and data.
Those affected by the billing bug complained about missing data and airtime depleting for no apparent reason.
Vodacom has committed to ensure that all affected customers will be refunded in full. On Tuesday morning, the mobile network said it had begun the process.
Vodacom said that all out-of-bundle charges incurred during the incident are being refunded, and that depleted bundles are being reinstated.
The technical glitch that drained data bundles from numerous customers was sparked by a configuration change to the network’s billing system.
Vodacom told Fin24 that the incident had been the first of its kind.
“The issue was caused by a configuration change on our prepaid and top up billing system that was problematic. We were able to isolate the cause and roll back this process during the course of last night (Monday),” Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy told Fin24 on Tuesday.
Kennedy said Vodacom had already reimbursed customers affected by the billing issue. All out-of-bundle charges incurred during the incident are being refunded, and depleted bundles are being reinstated.
“We are committed to ensuring that all customers are refunded in full,” Kennedy says.
Any customer who has not been reimbursed for their data loss should contact the call centre on 111, Vodacom said. The network would then conduct a short investigation to verify the amount of lost data, before refunding the user.
By Jan Vermeulen for MyBroadband; Kyle Venktess for Fin24
Vodacom will actively participate in the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (Icasa) consultation process on the draft regulations regarding data expiry periods and out-of-bundle billing.
Vodacom told Fin24 that it was committed to the process of drafting new regulations, after the communications regulator stepped into the going feud between consumers and networks over the high cost of data.
“Vodacom is aware of the draft regulation gazetted by Icasa regarding data expiry periods and out-of-bundle billing,” a company spokesperson told Fin24 this week.
“Vodacom is committed to bringing down data prices and has brought down effective data pricing by 44% over the last three years.
“Through the likes of Just4You, which offers customers hourly, daily, weekly and monthly bundles, Vodacom has made significant inroads in recent years in its pricing transformation journey,” the spokesperson said.
The latest step by Icasa to join the #DataMustFall campaign was aimed at regulating data expiry dates, according to a notice published in the Government Gazette on Monday.
Icasa intends to encourage networks to extend the validity of data bundles.
“With regard to out-of-bundle billing, Vodacom reiterates its position on this matter in that it remains fully committed to addressing these and has already started to implement its plans,” Vodacom told Fin24.
“We remain committed to consulting with the regulator in our shared quest to continuously address customer needs and improve the customer experience,” the company added.
The public has until September 19 to submit comment.
Prior to the recommendation, the regulator announced it would hold an inquiry to try reduce high data costs. This inquiry will be conducted over four phases and completed in March 2018.
These phases include a market study, discussion document, public hearings, and findings document. Members of the public would have 45 days to submit comments following each phase, News24 reported.
By Kyle Venktess for Fin24
Vodacom announced last week that it will increase the subscription fees of selected contract price plans on 1 May 2015.