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Know your telecoms rights

Posted on Jul 27 in News-Publicby hanriPrint

ICASA releases minimum standards which end users can expect from the telecoms operators

On Friday the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) released its ‘Minimum standards for end-user and subscription service charters’ regulations.  The regulations aim to protect consumers against poor service levels and hold companies to account for poor service delivery.

The regulations address, amoung other things, network and service availability, time to install and activate a service, connectivity failure and dropped call rates, operator assisted call response times and fault clearance rates.

According to the regulations Electronic Communications Network (ECN) and Electronic Communications (EC) services must be available, on average, at least 95% of the time over any six month period.  Operators will be required to produce half-yearly reports to show their uptime, and ICASA has also invested R 6-million in equipment to do network monitoring themselves.

The regulations require ECNS and ECN licensees to attain a 90% success rate on the installation and activation of services within 30 days.  The remaining 10% of service installations and activations must be done within 40 days.

Where no installation is required companies must activate 90% of ordered services within 7 days and the remaining 10% of services must be activated within 15 days.

If a ‘qualifying applicant’ can not be serviced within the time frames specified, the service provider must notify the applicant and provide full details as to why they are unable to meet these requirements.

When it comes to connectivity failure rate and dropped calls, the regulations stipulate that the percentage of connectivity failure must not exceed an average of 3% of all connections over a period of six months.  Furthermore licensees are required to monitor their networks around the clock.

Helpdesk and fault resolution times

One regulation which many consumers may welcome is the requirement that all operator assisted calls, better known as helpdesk calls, must be answered within 3 minutes.  The average waiting period is measured over a twelve month period.

Companies are required by the regulations to clear 90% of faults within 3 days, and clear the remainder of faults within six days after the fault is reported.

Complaints and penalties

All telecoms licensees are required to designate and publicize a point of entry for complaints from their subscribers, and they must acknowledge receipt of a complaint with a reference number within three days upon receiving the complaint.

Companies can respond to the complaints in any suitable way, but they are required to resolve all complaints within 14 days.  If the complainant is not satisfied with the resolution of the complaint, it can be escalated to ICASA after which a company again has 14 days to solve the problem.

If  a company is found by the ICASA Complaints and Compliance Committee to be in breach of the regulations they can be fined up to R 500 000 for not complying with end-user service levels and up to R 150 000 for contravening the complaints procedure and information requirements.  Every repeated offence will result in a R 50 000 fine.

The ‘End-User and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations 2009’ will come into effect on 23 August 2020.

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