Vodacom’s prices: 1994 versus 2014

Vodacom launched its first commercial services in June 1994, with the first subscribers paying 99c per minute for peak calls and 49c per minute for off-peak calls.

On 1 June 1994, Vodacom activated the mobile phones of 36,000 subscribers. At the time Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig said that they were planning to attract as many as 240,000 users within the first year.

The commercial launch prices on 1 June were actually much lower than the initial rates planned for the service.

In February 1994, a few months before the commercial launch of commercial mobile services in South Africa, Vodacom and MTN slashed their tariffs.

Vodacom reduced its rates from R1,50 to 99c per minute for peak-time calls, while off-peak calls were charged at 49c per minute.

MTN reduced its peak call rate to R1 per minute, with off-peak calls charged at 50c per minute.

The subscription rate for a mobile service on Vodacom’s network was R125 per month (Ex VAT). MTN charged R128 per month (Ex VAT) for a subscription.

The following article from 13 February 1994 provides an overview of the mobile rates shortly before Vodacom and MTN’s commercial launch.

Cellular rates February 1994
Cellular rates February 1994

1994 versus 2014

Twenty years after the first cellular services were launched in South Africa, the mobile packages and call rates look very different to 1994’s prices.

Data has become a valuable commodity since the advent of smartphones, and integrated mobile plans are now the most popular packages for high-end devices.

The following table provides an overview of how the rates changed between 1994 and 2014.

1994
Service provider Connection fee Peak call rate Off-peak call rate
Vodacom R125 per month R0.99 R0.49
MTN R128 per month R1.00 R0.50
2014
Service provider Connection fee Prepaid call rate Contract call rate
Vodacom Free R0.79 R1.25
MTN Free R0.79 R1.25

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Vodacom’s prices: 1994 versus 2014