Guiding consumers since 2009

“Airtime disappearance” to come to an end

By Isabelle Coetzee

It recently emerged that MTN consumers who were concerned about their data and airtime disappearing were right to worry.

In contrast to their competitors, this South African mobile network has been charging their clients for zero-rated LTE costs.

This was established in an article by MyBroadband last week, following an investigation by their editorial team.

Testing mobile networks 

MyBroadband conducted an experiment in which they loaded specific amounts of airtime to sim cards from Vodadom, Cell C, Telkom, and MTN.

On 11 July, the following amounts were loaded onto the sim cards:

  • Vodacom – R12
  • Cell C – R10
  • Telkom – R10
  • MTN – R10

No action that would have consumed airtime or data was taken, and the settings were also adjusted to support this.

Eleven days later, on 21 July, the amounts stood at:

  • Vodacom – R12
  • Cell C – R10
  • Telkom – R10
  • MTN – R4.60

The figures remained the same for Vodacom, Cell C, and Telkom. But R5.40 had disappeared from the MTN sim card.

LTE technology

MTN explained that LTE is a new generation technology aimed at improving the user’s mobile experience.

“It is important to note that LTE is an always connected technology,” said MTN. “What this means is that when a phone’s data is switched off or disabled, data depletion can still occur.” 

This technology is linked to the device’s IP address and it assists applications running in the background, including Google and Apple.

According to MTN, consumers will only incur these costs if they use an LTE handset with an LTE sim card in an LTE coverage area. 

“With the internet traffic being channeled directly to the handset, the network identifies this as valid data traffic, and this is billed for at a charge of 3 cents.”

The path forward…

Since the release of MyBroadband’s findings, MTN has decided to remove this cost.

They assured customers last week that, due to the technical work required to bring this change about, they have committed to do this within the next 30 days.

Icasa has encouraged those who have been affected by this matter to formally lodge any complaints with them.

By clicking here, you can follow their Consumer Complaints Procedure.

“We will then be able to engage the network concerned provider through the normal complaints handling processes,” said Icasa.  

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