The average South African does not know exactly how much more expensive out-of-bundle data rates cost – you will be shocked to learn that it is 2639% more expensive than in-bundle data rates.

Network service providers are required to reveal their financial results every year. They are also required to detail the number of mobile subscribers the company has totaled at the end of each year.

Vodacom has the most subscribers, with a total of 37.1 million subscribers. MTN is second with 29.5 million subscribers. However, this total does not reflect postpaid and prepaid subscribers. Its subscriber definitions have also changed, and now only includes customers which are active on the network.

Cell C follows at third with 16.3 million subscribers, and Telkom comes in last with a subscriber base of 4.4 million.

Compared to 2016, Cell C and Telkom have seen marginal growth, whereas MTN has lost subscribers. Vodacom has continued to maintain its dominance over the market, despite MTN being named the most valuable telecom brand in South Africa this year.

These four telecom giants, however, are beginning to face some aggressive competition as Mobile Virtual Network Operators such as FNB Connect, Afrihost and Lycamobile emerge in popularity.

A 2017 report by the web browser Opera and digital reading non-profit company World Reader has shown that data bundles between 100MB has 1GB are the most popular amongst the average South African.

The report also found that despite 100MB – 1GB data bundles being the most popular, more South Africans are purchasing data bundles over 10GB.

What could it be that has caused this shift?

We all know that in-bundle data rates are less expensive that paying out-of-bundle data rates, but exactly how much cheaper are these?

While on contract, Vodacom’s 20GB data bundle costs R329, which is about 2c per MB. The very same amount costs R999 on prepaid, which works out to 44c per MB. Be this as it may, data prices by Vodacom have decline by 40% in the past three years.

Vodacom Contract vs Prepaid bundle costs:

Data Bundle Contract Price Prepaid Price
1 GB R79 R149
2 GB R109 R249
3 GB R169 R299
5 GB R179 R399
10 GB R229 R599
20 GB R329 R999

Vodacom in-bundle vs out-of-bundle costs: 

Data Bundle Price In-Bundle Price Out-of-Bundle Prices
1 GB R79 8c per MB 89c per MB
2 GB R109 8c per MB 89c per MB
3 GB R169 6c per MB 50c per MB
5 GB R179 3c per MB 50c per MB
10 GB R229 2c per MB 50c per MB
20 GB R329 2c per MB 44c per MB

MTN’s 25GB prepaid data bundle costs R1 250, which is about 50c per MB. Out-of-bundle data rates mean that a MB costs 99c each. This is a 1 928% increase.

MTN has announced new data bundles, which have been effective since 5 March 2018. New packages have been introduced across the board, in both monthly and weekly bundles.

The best news, however is that all monthly bundles have decreased.

MTN Prepaid vs Contract bundle costs:

Data Bundle Contract Price Prepaid Data Prepaid Price
1 GB R39 1.5 GB R160
2 GB R69 3 GB R260
3 GB R89 4.5 GB R330
5 GB R149 7.5 GB R430
10 GB R199 12.5 GB R650
20 GB R299 25 GB R1 250

MTN Prepaid in-bundle vs out-of-bundle costs:

Data Bundle Price In-Bundle Price Out-of-Bundle Price
1.5 GB R160 10c per MB 99c per MB
3 GB R260 8c per MB 99c per MB
4.5 GB R330 7c per MB 99c per MB
7.5 GB R450 6c per MB 99c per MB
12.5 GB R650 5c per MB 99c per MB
25 GB R1 250 5c per MB 99c per MB

According to both Vodacom and MTN, the purchasing of bundles allows these telecom companies to forecast data trends and demands. This also helps them plan and make provision for network capacity for greater accuracy.

Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel has stated that government will prioritise lowering the cost of data, as well as expanding the infrastructure. Regulator ICASA also insisted on extending the validity of data bundles.

Picture: Pixabay

Article written by

Lucinda Dordley

Lucinda is a hard news writer who occasionally dabbles in lifestyle writing, and recent journalism graduate. She is a proud intersectional feminist, and is passionate about actively creating a world which is free of discrimination and inequality.