South African operator Cell C plans to tackle the problem of expiring mobile data, according to a report. CEO Jose Dos Santos said that the operator is committed to doing the right thing, following proposed changes to national regulator ICASA’s End-User and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations. ICASA (Independent Communications Authority of South Africa) wants mobile operators to warn customers when their data bundles are about to expire, to block automatic out-of-bundle billing for data, and to allow data bundles to last longer.
Under the proposed regulations, mobile operators Vodacom, MTN and Cell C will have to stop customers from continuing to use data and being billed after a bundle is depleted. The operators must also extend the validity of a data bundle if a subscriber loads a new one before their current one has expired, and must warn subscribers before their bundle expires.
As a general principle, it is a good idea for operators to “get out ahead” of impending regulatory changes, voluntarily changing their own behavior before they are actually forced to do so by law. Such an approach serves as a demonstration of goodwill to customers and therefore shores up loyalty and helps with retention. In addition, the operator that makes the change first achieves a kind of first-mover advantage in terms of public images, especially if the change involves something that is particularly dear to customers’ hearts.
Not running out of data and not being charged excessively are certainly in that category. If Cell C in fact implements data-expiration warnings and stops out-of-bundle billing, it will most likely get an image boost. Deferring making changes and waiting for the inevitable cannot genuinely help an operator in the long run. And speaking of the long term, by building customer goodwill on the subject of data use, operators will actually encourage greater data use, which stands to increase revenue more than a strategy that relies on hoping that customers will run out of data unexpectedly and then be charged for it.