Until now consumers have had few options in paying their cellphone contract network service providers.
But now that, and much else, is about to change for the better because the new regulations adopted by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) make provision for consumers to sign up for shorter cellphone contracts.
From August 17 mobile operators must provide consumers with the choice of a six-, 12-, 18- or 24-month contract and clearly show the amount by which the handset is subsidised.
Other provisions of the regulations specify that:
* Service providers may no longer charge for the renewal or upgrading of a contract and re-sellers may not charge a connection fee.
* Service providers may offer discounts on tariffs lodged with the authority. Cell C will not be affected though as it already offers contracts for as short a period as one month.
* Service providers will be expected to implement the regulations when they come into effect.
* Vodacom, MTN and their re-sellers must now indicate the subsidiary and monetary value of their services, including the price of the handsets.
* Contracts must be transparent and easy to understand, including the billing for free and charged airtime.
* Consumers must be informed every month of their remaining instalments and what amount of the subsidy is still outstanding as well as what they would be liable to pay should they choose to cancel their contract.
* Such subscribers may not be charged exorbitant "cancellation" fees and must be informed of free airtime still available to them.