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Regulator issues order to mobile internet service providers

Local mobile broadband internet service providers have been warned to alert their customers when their data is running low to avoid excessive costs to the consumers. 

The order comes from the Office of the Regulator and will be effective from 31 March 2019. 

According to the order, the internet companies should give warning messages when data usage, roaming and opt-out option for Mobile Broadband, Mobile Services, Pre-paid Fix Lines. 

“The service providers failed to provide any warning message to customers when data is depleted or close to depletion — in which the consumer's credit is then used and applied automatically and resulting in excessive costs to the customer," the order reads.

“Service Providers failed to provide any warning message to customers when their phones are in a roaming zone especially when travelling overseas.

“Service Providers failed to develop a platform to enable automated opt-out option for their promotions."

Responding to questions from the Samoa Observer, Lefaoali’u Unutoa Auelua-Fonoti, confirmed that her Office received several complaints from members of the public.

“A couple of customer complaints were proven by the monthly monitoring and as a result the Regulator finds it fit under the Legislation to issue an order to service providers to provide warning messages to customers when data is depleted or close to depletion in which the consumer’s credit is then used and applied and resulting in excessive costs to the consumer. 

“The bottom line is the customer should be given the option of “consent” before they commit to any purchase of any bundles or use their credits anytime they want,” explained Lefaoali’i. 

She explained the order was issued in 2018 straight after the investigation based on the monitoring and determination of the complaints. It was due to be effective on 21 December 2018. 

“However the service providers acknowledged the Order but requested to shift the effective date of Order as they have to seek expert vendor development advice on configuration of their systems and fully implement system stated in the order.

“The Regulator then deferred the effective date of the Order to 31 March 2019 given service providers three months to configure their systems, and after this extension period the Regulator will not extend or grant any extension to any service providers.” 

Furthermore, the Regulator has also reminded the service providers for submissions on all requirements for testing to be due in Friday 22 March 2019. “Order T58 will be effective on 31 March 2019.” 




ORDER OF THE REGULATOR NO. 2018/T58

WARNING MESSAGES for Data Usage, Roaming and Opt-Out Option
 for Mobile Broadband, Mobile Services, Pre-paid Fix Lines

Pursuant to the Telecommunications Act 2005 ("Act") Sections 8 (1) (b) and 8 (1) (r), the Regulator is empowered to regulate the telecommunications market and to issue orders, respectively in the course of implementing statutory duties under the Act.

WHEREAS:

Service Providers failed to provide any warning message to customers when data is depleted or close to depletion — in which the consumer's credit is then used and applied automatically and resulting in excessive costs to the customer;

Service Providers failed to provide any warning message to customers when their phones are in a roaming zone especially when travelling overseas.

Service Providers failed to develop a platform to enable automated opt-out option for their promotions;

As such, the Regulator has seen it fit to issue the following Orders.

ORDER 1:

Service Providers are directed to:

1. Provide a WARNING messages with all Data bundles, informing the customer when Data is:

close to depletion (with the amount of data left);

completely depleted; and

implement a way to prevent the automatic use of credit once data is depleted.

2. Provide a WARNING message immediately when service is roaming or using roam credit; and

3. Provide an automated Opt-Out option as a mandatory feature of every message. ORDER 2:

Service Providers to first submit to the Regulator all requirements for testing prior to implementation;

Service Providers must take the necessary actions to implement the requirements by Sunday 31 March 2019.


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