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Tanzania communications regulator suspends telecom firms' new data charges

Saturday April 03 2021
bando pichaa
By Emmanuel Mtengwa

Dar es Salaam. The government on Friday April 2, 2021 suspended telecommunication firms’ new data bundles after they (the bundles) had raised a public uproar.

Earlier on Friday, all telecommunication firms had revised their bundles for voice calls, data and short messaging service as they sought to align them with new regulations as published by Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA).

In the process however, they (telcos) significantly raised data bundles. This raised a public uproar as subscribers vehemently opposed the new charges, with some describing them as ‘outrageous’ via social media platforms.

In response to the uproar, the government issued a statement later in the day, announcing the suspension of the new data charges until the matter gets resolved.

“The government has directed telcos to suspend the new prices for data bundles for a while as the issue is being sorted out,” the head of corporate communications at TCRA, Mr Semu Mwakyanjala, told The Citizen.

The message was followed by a statement from the regulator, saying the suspension of data bundles was meant to give room for further discussions.

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“TCRA is temporarily suspending the new data bundles so as to give room for service providers to conduct a detailed analysis that should culminate into new tariffs that effectively put into consideration the interests of consumers,” the statement reads.

And according to Mr Mwakyanjala, the regulator was largely unconvinced with telcos’ decision to raise charges of data bundles.

“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,” he added.

TCRA’s new regulations, which became effective on Friday, April 2, 2021, allow Tanzanians freely share already purchased data bundles.

They also direct service providers to seek TCRA’s approval before offering new bundles.

The regulations also give subscribers the freedom to continue using their purchased airtime or unit packages extensively not necessarily within the set expiry time.

All they will have to do is to buy the same package before its expiration date.

The user of the service will be notified once the package hits 75 and 100 percent for voice time, data and SMS packages.

They also direct service providers to seek regulator’s approval before offering new bundles.

Customers will also be able to continue using their purchased airtime or unit packages extensively not necessarily within the set expiry time.

All they will have to do is to buy the same package before its expiration date.

The user of the service will be notified once the package hits 75 and 100 percent for voice time, data and SMS packages.

The coming of the new regulations is a deliberate move by the sector’s regulator to reign in telecommunication firm’s issuance of data bundles in response to complaints by consumers.

The complaints were based on high package costs, frequent changes in data packages, customers receiving promotional messages without their consent and users losing bundles on expiration even if it (the bundle) had not been utilized.

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