The truth about mobile broadband prices in South Africa

Many people are complaining about South Africa having among the highest broadband prices in the world, and mobile data is often mentioned as part of the pricing complaint.

There is such a strong sense that broadband is expensive in South Africa that the government is looking at measures to address the issue.

In 2014 Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services Siyabonga Cwele promised to reduce the cost of communicating in the country, through pricing and content reforms.

He indicated that Icasa had concluded the broadband market value-chain study, which will assist in regulating broadband prices.

Is South Africa’s mobile broadband expensive?

To establish if South Africa’s mobile broadband products are as expensive as many people claim, MyBroadband looked at mobile data packages from a few operators in the developed world.

The pricing information, summarised in the table below, shows that South Africans are actually getting a good deal when looking at mobile data packages.

It should be noted that the picture changes significantly when looking at bundled packages which include voice, SMS, and data.

Large data bundles – bigger than 10GB – are also affordable in the countries listed below, while they are expensive in South Africa.

Country Operator Data allowance (GB) Contract type Monthly price Price per GB
South Africa Cell C 5 Contract R199 R40
South Africa Vodacom 5 Contract R259 R52
South Africa Cell C 3 Contract R159 R53
Australia Vodafone 8 Month to month R424 R53
South Africa Vodacom 3 Contract R169 R56
South Africa Vodacom 5 Once-off R289 R58
South Africa Vodacom 3 Once-off R189 R63
Australia Telstra 8 Month to month R519 R65
South Africa Cell C 1 Contract R69 R69
Australia Vodafone 4 Month to month R283 R71
South Africa Vodacom 1 Contract R75 R75
Australia Vodafone 2.5 Month to month R189 R75
South Africa Cell C 5 Prepaid R399 R80
UK Vodafone 5 Month to month R403 R81
Australia Telstra 4 Month to month R330 R83
South Africa Vodacom 1 Once-off R85 R85
UK EE 3 Pay as you go R288 R96
US T-Mobile 5 Prepaid R486 R97
South Africa Cell C 3 Prepaid R299 R100
UK Vodafone 3 Month to month R307 R102
US T-Mobile 3 Prepaid R365 R122
South Africa Cell C 1 Prepaid R149 R149
US Verizon Wireless 2 Prepaid R365 R182
UK EE 1 Pay as you go R192 R192
UK Vodafone 1 Month to month R192 R192
Australia Telstra 1 Month to month R236 R236
US Verizon Wireless 1 Prepaid R243 R243
US T-Mobile 1 Prepaid R243 R243

Exchange rates used for this comparison:

  • 1 USD = 12.15 ZAR
  • 1 AUD = 9.43 ZAR
  • 1 GBP = 19.20 ZAR

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The truth about mobile broadband prices in South Africa