Data rules are falling: what you need to know
Now you can extend the lifespan of your data bundle – but make sure you know the fine print
IMAGINE this: you fill up your car’s petrol tank then drive sparingly over the next few weeks so that 30 days later you still have a quarter of a tank. Then the filling station owner pitches up and drains the remaining fuel from your tank.
Sounds ridiculous – but until recently that’s exactly what was happening to your cellphone data. You’d buy a bundle for 30 days and after that any unused data would vanish into thin air.
The injustice of this use-it-or-lose-it policy has had consumers’ backs up for years. But now, in a major victory for ordinary South Africans, all this has changed. From now on any leftover data at the end of the month will roll over.
The decision is the result of an investigation into consumer complaints launched in 2016 by the Independent
Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa). Despite mobile service providers fighting tooth and nail for three years, new data regulations have finally become a reality.
In practical terms, this means unused data, including data bought in April, can’t simply disappear overnight.
But unused data won’t be available forever.
“Data typically rolls over only for one month at a time, meaning that data from March can roll over to April, but won’t then roll over to May,” says Arthur Goldstuck, founder of World Wide Worx, which unravels trends in internet and mobile usage in Africa.
But there are no prescriptions on how providers will implement the new regulations, and they differ from company to company.