Zambia regulator digs in heels over non-expiry data bundles

ITWebAfrica , February 10, 2020

Mobile industry stakeholders, including the country’s telecommunications industry regulator ZICTA, are confident the introduction of non-expiry data bundles by 12 February 2020 will improve the country’s internet penetration rating.

According to recent ZICTA statistics , there are 10, 893, 183 internet users in Zambia representing 62.7% penetration, while the number of mobile phone users currently stands at 16, 889,138, representing 97.2% penetration.

In August 2019 lawmakers passed a motion in Parliament that prevents ISPs from prescribing expiry dates on internet bundles purchased by customers.

The lawmakers argued that forcing expiry dates is tantamount to stealing from subscribers because expired bundles benefit the service provider rather than the end users.

To date, MTN Zambia and Airtel Zambia have introduced non-expiry bundles.

Airtel Zambia managing director Apoorva Mehrotra said, “With the introduction of non-expiry bundles, more customers will now be able to browse.”

MTN Zambia chief executive officer Bart Hofker said, “The introduction of the non-expiry bundles is in line with the changing needs of our diverse customer base.”

ZICTA director general Patrick Mutimunshi said while service providers’ point out that non-expiry bundles slow down business because of having to wait for consumers to exhaust their bundles, the regulator remains adamant that it had little choice in the matter.

Consumer Unity Trust Society (CUTS) Zambia centre coordinator Chenai Makumba said the issue of bundles expiring had been one that many consumers have complained about over the past couple of years – at times consumers’ bundles expired before they had been depleted!

“We therefore encourage other mobile phone networks to follow suit and provide consumers with the option to buy non-expiring data bundles,” Makumba said.

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