IDA unleashes customer welfare rules

Melissa Chua
15 Mar 2011

Singaporean operators will be required to allow users to cap data roaming charges at S$100 ($78.90) under new consumer protection regulations proposed by Singapore’s IDA.

Operators will be compelled to introduce the ability to automatically turn off roaming once this cap is reached by the first quarter of 2012, in a move that looks likely to impact local operators' ARPU.

From 1 July 2011, operators will need to obtain customers’ consent before implementing any form of roaming services. Roaming services are available by default for consumers on certain subscription plans.

Recommendations have also been set out to enhance the transparency of Singapore’s advertised broadband speeds.

IDA will also require operators to provide consumers with a free premium rate services (PRS) barring service by 2012, which will prevent consumers from accidentally subscribing to these services. Plans are meanwhile underway for a distinctive prefix number for operators to migrate PRS to.

More stringent penalties await PRS providers who contravene the IDA’s current regulations on PRS, the IDA said in a statement, adding repeat offenders would face license suspensions or cancellations.

The IDA considers PRS as value-added services that deliver content such as information, wallpapers and ringtones over SMS, and for which users are ‘charged over and above the standard network charges’. These services could be provided by third-parties or operators.

Figures provided by the IDA indicated that the number of complaints the regulator received for PRS had stood at 161 in 2008, dipped to 86 in 2009 but then rose to 156 in 2010.

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