ICE tells customers to chill out over Sutel’s mobile data measures

18 Jun 2014

Costa Rican regulator Sutel has clarified its plans for regulating mobile internet tariffs following complaints from consumer advocacy groups and politicians, La Nacion writes. The watchdog had proposed the establishment of a flat rate for mobile data of CRC0.0075 (USD0.00001) per kB after it emerged that a minority of ‘aggressive’ customers were placing a disproportionate strain on the cellco’s networks, with 5% of subscribers using 40% of network resources. The plans prompted outrage from consumers fearing price hikes and limitations on internet usage. Responding to the criticism, Sutel president Maryleana Mendez told press that the new volume model will not replace other pricing strategies but create a hybrid model. Under Sutel’s plan, operators would offer tariffs with download caps, or ‘unlimited’ plans, with the addition of ‘fair usage’ data caps to prevent abuse of the latter option. The addition of fair usage caps would help maintain service quality without placing excessive constraints on customers’ internet access, Sutel argues. Further, the watchdog claims that the measures would allow for greater flexibility and price competition. In a rare show of solidarity, all three cellcos – Movistar, Claro and ICE (which offers services under the Kolbi brand) – have supported the regulator’s plans, with a spokesperson for ICE noting: ‘In any market there are flat fees with unlimited consumption; there is a flat fee, but [it is] regulated and [features] fair use policies. This allows users to download certain level, but if there are abusive network clients, once a certain level of consumption is reached [their connection] will slow down to avoid affecting the service of others.’