Out-of-bundle data charges are extremely expensive compared to in-bundle data rates.
The high charges can quickly deplete a user’s airtime if not noticed, and a new bundle not loaded.
Thankfully, most mobile operators warn you via SMS when your data is running low – so you can prevent digging into your airtime balance.
However, notifications don’t always arrive quick enough – and sometimes not at all.
This leads to an obvious question: Can I turn off out-of-bundle charges by default on my cell number? The answer in most cases is no.
By default, Telkom blocks your mobile data usage to prevent you from running into out-of-bundle charges.
Once your mobile data is depleted, you will not be able to access the Internet and will be redirected to the Telkom website.
Users are prompted to purchase a mobile data bundle or continue browsing and incur out-of-bundle charges.
The provider will also periodically notify you via SMS as your mobile data is depleted.
Telkom contract and prepaid customers are charged 29c per MB for out-of-bundle usage.
Update – MTN has provided comment.
MTN said it notifies users when they have consumed 50% and 90% of their data bundle.
It also informs customers to purchase data to avoid being charged out-of-bundle rates when they have depleted their bundle.
MTN said it did test a cut-off solution for when a data bundle is depleted, but certain customers who were cut off in-session were unhappy.
“It would not be appropriate to deny a customer access to data and we have to respect an individual’s right to choose,” said MTN.
“We respect this free choice by empowering our customers with information and education regarding their data usage.”
MTN prepaid and standard contract customers are charged 99c per MB for OOB data usage. Contract customers with add-on bundles are charged 50c per MB.
Vodacom said it notifies users when they are using airtime on out-of-bundle charges, based on their profile.
“All customers receive the first out-of-bundle trigger, which is set at R10 spend,” said Vodacom.
Vodacom said it will not block out-of-bundle usage by default, but does offer call limits to customers.
- Mandatory Call Limit – set by Vodacom and is imposed on all new contracts for the first seven months.
- Voluntary Call Limit – customers receive SMS alerts when usage reaches 50%, 70%, and 90% of the limit set. The line is soft-locked once the limit set by the customer is reached.
- Permanent Call Limit – a monthly, recurring voluntary call limit.
- Temporary Call Limit – ideal if the customer wants a call limit for a specific period.
Vodacom charges prepaid and top-up customers 99c per MB out of bundle. Contract customers pay 89c per MB.
Cell C does not automatically block OOB data usage, and will send a customer an SMS notification at 90% and full bundle depletion.
Cell C Product Development Executive Ishfaq Asvat said it cannot redirect users to a web portal upon data bundle depletion, as very little data is used within a web browser.
“Most usage happens in apps, where we have little or no control, and if we block usage, a customer’s session on whatever app they are using will just stop,” said Asvat.
“In most cases, this leads to frustration and a poor user experience, as customers don’t know why their session has ended.”
Cell C prepaid and Connector contract customers pay 15c per MB for out-of-bundle usage. All other Cell C contract customers are charged 99c per MB.