One of the biggest complaints about Vodacom’s mobile data offering is its R2 per MB out-of-bundle (OOB) rate, which has cost subscribers thousands in unexpected bills.
The R2 per MB rate has remained consistent over the last decade – since Vodacom launched its first mobile broadband products (3G) in December 2004.
Over the same period, Vodacom’s contract data bundle prices plummeted from R599 per GB to R79 per GB.
R2 per MB translates into R2,048 per GB – 40-times more expensive than Vodacom’s lowest in-bundle price for data.
There is no good explanation from Vodacom as to why it continues to charge R2 per MB, other than trying to make as much money as possible from out-of-bundle usage.
Between 2002 and 2005, Vodacom slashed its out-of-bundle rate from R45 per MB to R2 per MB, made possible by better and faster network technologies.
However, despite far better network technologies (Like HSPA, LTE, and LTE-A) and far lower bandwidth costs over the last 10 years, Vodacom has kept its R2 per MB OOB price for many products.
The chart below shows the per-MB rate for out-of-bundle data and in-bundle data for a 1GB account over the past 10 years.
Zunaid Mahomed, managing executive for product and commercial management at Vodacom, said they “took a decision to reduce the out-of-bundle rates on all Prepaid, Contract, and uChoose plans”.
“To this end, we lowered the out-of-bundle rates on our default Prepaid tariff and uChoose packages in 2015, and changes on our Postpaid packages were effected on our Smart and Red tariffs when they launched a few years ago,” he said.
“As a result, our Prepaid default tariff for the out-of-bundle rate is R1.50 per MB and not R2,” said Mahomed.
However, Vodacom states on its website that “the default out-of-bundle rate is R2 per Megabyte of data sent and received on any price plan unless otherwise specified by price plans”.
The company further states that “Prepaid price plans have an out-of-bundle rate of R2 per Megabyte”.
MyBroadband looked at various low-end data products from Vodacom, and for most of them the out-of-bundle rate was R2 per MB.
The R2 per MB rate applies to numerous products, including Internet Daily, once-off and monthly recurring data bundles, and Internet Starter Packs.
While it is true that some of Vodacom’s products have lower out-of-bundle rates, many subscribers who buy small data packages have to deal with a the high OOB price.