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Current List of Zero-Rated Websites

July 2020

The Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa (ISPA) has announced that almost 1,000 local websites are either already zero-rated or are currently in the process of being zero-rated.

This means that all South Africans are available to access these websites over fixed or mobile data as long as the country remains in a coronavirus-related national state of disaster. The organisation maintains a full list of zero-rated websites in South Africa which is updated every Monday.

 ISPA said that earlier during the lockdown it had issued a call for ISPs and other ICT service providers to take steps to support Internet users engaged in online education. These steps include zero-rating educational traffic, temporarily increasing data caps for selected customers, and providing free lifeline data to consumers.

 “ISPA continues to work closely with partners at TENET (Tertiary Education and Research Network of South Africa) and many other relevant stakeholders to develop practical advice for ISPs on how to identify national educational resources,” the company said. “Any web-based educational or health resource which helps to meet challenges created by the pandemic may apply to be zero-rated.”

 An application for zero-rating must be approved by the Department of Basic Education, Department of Higher Education and Training, or the Department of Health.Zero-rating process ISPA noted that zero-rating Internet traffic is surprisingly complex and requires the cooperation of all levels of network providers. “Furthermore, not all network configurations can support zero-rating,” ISPA said. “

  The inherent intricacies of the process notwithstanding, consumers still need to know which sites are zero-rated as some are reportedly checking mobile data airtime balances to determine if a local website deemed critical to beating COVID-19 has, in fact, been zero-rated.”

 Mobile networks have also zero-rated a number of services and websites in accordance with directives from the Competition Commission. Mobile networks including Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, and Telkom have zero-rated various educational and data management portals in addition to the websites which have been zero-rated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.