Tanzanian regulator steps in over data charge confusion

Tanzanian regulator steps in over data charge confusion

The past few days have seen the Tanzanian government take action after what has been described as ‘public uproar’ relating to new data bundle pricing from the country’s operators.

It seems that last Friday operators revised their bundles for voice calls, data and SMS in an effort to align them with new regulations from the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

In practice, this mean a significant rise in prices for data bundles, a move deeply unpopular with subscribers, some of whom showed their displeasure on social media platforms.

It seems to have taken only a matter of hours before the government issued a statement announcing the suspension of the new data charges until the matter gets resolved.

Tanzania’s Citizen newspaper reports that the message was followed by a statement from the regulator, saying the suspension of data bundles was meant to give room for further discussions.

The Citizen adds that the new regulations allowed Tanzanians to freely share already purchased data bundles. They also directed service providers to seek TCRA’s approval before offering new bundles.

The idea, it seems, was to bring data bundling under control after consumers complained about high package costs, frequent changes in data packages, promotional messages and losing bundles on expiration even if they hadn’t been used. Under the new rules subscribers would be allowed to use their purchased airtime or unit packages beyond the set expiry time.

Why data prices have gone up is unclear. The Citizen quotes  the head of corporate communications at TCRA, Mr Semu Mwakyanjala, who noted, “The prices for both voice calls and short messaging service have gone down, which is good, but for data the prices unexpectedly went up. The prices for voice and SMS will continue as they are but those of data have been suspended immediately.”

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