Kampala, Uganda | URN | Telecommunications giant MTN Uganda has announced a package of internet bundles that have no time limit for expiration — a few weeks after a Ugandan sued telecom companies over expiry of data.
The offering allows internet users to get 6MB [megabytes] for Shs 100, 80MB for Shs 1,000 and 1GB [gigabyte] for Shs 10,000. These will have no time limit when they expire.
The data expiration will depend on what the user does with the internet. Visiting heavy websites, videos, and documents downloads could mean that your data will be spent faster. But to note as well, the new offers are more expensive if compared to the normal data bundles on the market. For instance, for Shs 10,000, one would get 1.5GB on MTN expiring after a week.
The MTN path is part of a growing trend across Africa where telecommunications companies are opening up their internet bundle offerings. Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa all have internet providers offering no expiry bundles.
Also, it is because of pressure from legal suits by several individuals, saying by letting data bundles that one buys expire before being used up was cheating customers. This instigated debate over consumer protection.
Last month, East African Legislative Assembly Uganda representative, Dennis Namara, petitioned High court in Kampala over the expiry of data bundles by telecom companies.
MTN didn’t wait for the case to be seen through.
Safaricom Plc in Kenya, which turned 19 on Nov 30, rolled out data, voice and SMS packages without expiry dates. The roll-out came amid a case filed by lawyer and Information and Communication Technology practitioner Adrian Kamotho, who wants the Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal to stop Safaricom and Airtel from irregularly depriving consumers of their unused data bundles.
Under the new plans, which took effect immediately, Safaricom’s 33 million subscribers can buy airtime and data for any amount, starting as low as a shilling.
“As a permanent proposition, customers purchasing the new Call and SMS plans on *544# will get 50 percent extra talk time with every purchase enabling them to talk more for less,” acting CEO Michael Joseph said in a statement to newsrooms.
But the telecom firm retained data packages with expiry dates, meaning customers have the freedom to choose.
This month, Airtel Kenya rolled out data bundles that don’t expire. Airtel Uganda is yet to follow suit.
In September Cable.co.uk, a UK a Broadband, TV and Mobile Phone Price Comparison Site, said Ugandans paid one of the highest prices for mobile data in East African region.
At USD4.69 (Shs17, 231) for 1GB of data, Ugandan prices are the second-highest in East Africa behind Tanzania, where 1GB costs USD5.93 (Shs22, 000).