Telecom providers in Zambia will now have to provide non-expiry data bundle options for subscribers in the country, according to a new policy by the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZITCA).
According to the regulatory body, the new policy, set to be implemented from the 12th of February 2020, will help improve the country’s internet penetration rating.
Last month, MTN Zambia announced the launch of its Freedom bundles; a new range of non-expiry mobile data bundles. Airtel Zambia has also introduced its own non-expiry bundle.
From Wednesday, all network providers in Zambia will be required to allow data subscribers the option to load and use mobile data bundles that do not expire before they are exhausted.
The Nigerian situation
Nigeria ranks among the top ten countries with the highest number of internet users in the world. According to the recent NCC report, the number of internet users in Nigeria is 184,426,187, with an internet penetration rate of 38%.
However, the number of mobile phone users currently stands at 269,717,158, representing 96.76% of Nigerians. That is huge potential for internet subscription. The NCC recently announced an investment of about $732 million to raise internet penetration to 65% by 2024.
Over the past decade, data has shown that Nigeria’s internet subscriber rate increases as the internet penetration in the country increases. This means that the level of internet penetration in Nigeria will increase if the adoption of Zambia’s non-expiry policy increases the number of internet subscribers in the country.
This could hasten the NCC internet penetration plan.
Possible Effects the non-expiry data bundle could have in Nigeria
In Nigeria, telecom operators cannot change or modify data plans without approval by the NCC. According to Section 108 of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003 (NCA 2003), for there to be a non-expiry data plan, it has to be approved by the NCC.
Most of the current data bundles have a validity date of at least 1 hour to a maximum of 30 days. However, if the NCC decides to implement the non-expiry data policy in order to increase internet penetration. It might cause the following:
Reduction in Revenue generated from data subscription
Data subscribers are forced to buy new data bundles once an old one is expended or expires. With non-expiry data bundles, data subscribers will not need to buy data again if they still have data after the common 30 days validity days expiry.
This means that telecom providers will have to wait for users to exhaust their data before they can make more money.
The current expiry model favour’s telecom operators but if the non-expiry bundle comes in, users will get more value for their money. This may increase the number of subscribers and may attract low internet users.
Reduction in volume of data subscribed
When buying data bundle, many tend to buy monthly data bundles because of its favourable cost to data ratio. However, at the end of the month, a significant amount of internet subscribers often complain about not finishing their data bundles before it expires.
Some even go out of their way to exhaust the remain on movies and music downloads or updates just so they get full value.
If the non-expiry data comes into play, telecom providers might record a reduction in the volume of data subscribed for. However, the total number of subscribers shouldn’t be affected
Extinction of rollover plans
Telecom providers offer their subscribers the option to roll over unused data. So, in a bid not to lose unused data, subscribers would rush to purchase new bundles.
This has made a good revenue model for the operators as many purchase data in fear of the possibility of losing their data.
However, if the non-expiry bundle is implemented, the business idea between non-expiry data model will be defeated and the plan may go into extinction.
The implementation of the non-expiry data bundle in Zambia marks the beginning of a shakeup in the telecom industry that may see the end-users getting more for their service. Nigerian internet users will appreciate such a policy as the introduction of non-expiry bundles, will allow them to browse more.