ISPA calls on South African ISPs and other ICT service providers to take steps to support internet users engaged in online education during the COVID-19 National Disaster period. These steps may include zero-rating educational traffic, temporarily increasing bandwidth caps for some customers, or even providing limited free “lifeline” data packages to customers.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) play an important role in keeping South Africans connected, especially during a time of crisis. Given the ongoing disruptions to schools and universities, all ISPs should zero-rate traffic to national educational learning resources, including learning management systems, institutional repositories, library services and student support systems.
ISPA is working closely with partners at TENET to develop practical advice for ISPs on how to identify national educational resources.
Zero-rating educational traffic requires the co-operation of all levels of network providers. ISPA welcomes the steps already taken by fixed-line and mobile operators and asks that they also consider zero-rating educational content over their wholesale networks so that this benefit can be passed on to all retail customers.
ISPA acknowledges that not all network configurations can technically support zero-rating of educational traffic, so encourages service providers to make best efforts to accommodate access to educational resources for their customers. This support might take the form of temporary increases in bandwidth caps for some customers, or even a general concession to allow customers unable to pay, a limited “lifeline” access service.
Zero-rating educational sites is not an exact process and may be open to abuse by users with technical knowledge. ISPA calls on consumers to please not abuse special offers made by ISPs.
During the global crisis, we all need to work together to make sure everybody in South Africa can stay connected.