International roaming from SA: dirt-cheap to R359,987 per GB

Complaints about the high costs associated with international roaming, particularly the exorbitant costs of data roaming, are nothing new.

The mobile operators have previously explained that they are not to blame for these exorbitant rates, and that they merely pass on the rate which is charged by foreign operators.

However, local operators also charge international travellers very high data roaming charges, which means that they help perpetuate the practice of exorbitant roaming costs.

This seems to be slowly changing, as the cost of roaming internationally as a subscriber on South African networks is steadily coming down.

For example, although it’s not a new development, Vodacom charges R5/MB when roaming on Safaricom, its sister network in Kenya.

Vodacom also launched a service for contract customers in December called Travel Saver which offers data rates of R2/MB in certain countries. However, it requires a daily subscription fee of R30.

More recently, MTN South Africa announced “Roam like Home”, which offered reduced roaming rates in countries where MTN operates a network.

Cell C appears to have quietly brought down its roaming charges, offering rates as low as 14c/MB on the Pelephone network in Israel, and 78c/MB on Telecom New Zealand.

Data roaming rates in the United States and United Kingdom have also come down for Cell C subscribers since last year.

However, if you try to use the data network of Telstra Australia as a Cell C subscriber you’ll be asked to cough up R351.55/MB, which is R22 more than our previous comparison.

The table below shows the per-Megabyte data rates that South African network operators charge their subscribers when roaming in select countries:

International data roaming rates (per Megabyte)
Country Vodacom MTN Cell C Telkom Mobile
United States R128 R143.36 R2.34 – R187.29 R120.27
Canada R17.50 R143.36 R3.14 – R233.34 R120.27
Brazil R17.50 – R128 R122.88 R132.28 – R191.79 R120.27
United Kingdom R17.50 – R128 R14.34 R2.07 – R259.04 R26.59 – R120.27
Kenya R5 – R102.40 R106.50 R79.92 – R124.87 R120.27
Nigeria R17.50 – R102.40 R2 R130.87 – R199.74 R120.27
Israel R17.50 – R128 R143.36 R0.14 – R252.18 R120.27
China R17.50 R143.36 R3.41 R120.27
Australia R17.50 – R128 R163.84 R274.66 – R351.55 R26.59
New Zealand R17.50 – R128 R163.84 R0.78 – R265.63 R26.59

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International roaming from SA: dirt-cheap to R359,987 per GB