Don’t buy these mobile data bundles – Worst per-MB pricing in South Africa

Mobile networks in South Africa offer a range of mobile data packages – some are good, and others are terrible.

A measure of the value you get from a mobile data bundle is simple to calculate, all other elements – such as network coverage and download speeds – constant.

Users typically look at the size of the data bundle, how much it costs, and how long it lasts.

When it comes to mobile data, the length of time the bundle lasts greatly affects how much the data bundle is. For example, a 2GB bundle valid for 7 days will cost R99, but a 1GB bundle valid for a month will cost R149.

The reason for the price difference is that longer-lasting data makes it more difficult for a mobile network to forecast demand. A short-life data bundle provides the network with a smaller window that resources may have to be allocated to a user.

Price differences also arise when you move from smaller to bigger data bundles, with bigger data bundles cheaper on a per-MB basis. This is because breakage is more likely to take place on a big bundle, which sees the customer not making use of their full data allocation before it expires.

Per-MB pricing

With these factors affecting pricing, consumers have to be on the lookout to ensure they get as much value as possible when buying a data bundle.

A good way to measure value is to look at the effective rate you pay per megabyte. For example: if you buy a 1GB data bundle for R150, you effectively pay 15c per MB – if you use the full bundle before it expires.

To demonstrate how data prices change with size, and which bundles to watch out for, we have calculated the per-MB pricing of 30-day bundles from all the major mobile networks – Vodacom, Cell C, Telkom, and MTN – and detailed the results in the table below.

It must be noted that Rain Mobile does not offer data bundles, and instead charges a flat rate of 5c per MB – and effective R50 per GB.

Per-MB Data Prices
Data Bundle Price Price Per-MB
150MB R39 26c
300MB R60 20c
600MB R99 16.5c
1GB R149 14.9c
3GB R299 9.9c
6GB R399 6.6c
10GB R499 4.9c
15MB R10 66.6c
30MB R12 40c
100MB R29 29c
250MB R63 25.2c
1GB R149 14.9c
2GB R249 12.4c
3GB R299 9.9c
5GB R405 8.1c
10GB R605 6c
Cell C
30MB R12 40c
60MB R20 33.3c
100MB R29 29c
200MB R49 24.5c
500MB R99 19.8c
1GB R149 14.9c
2GB R249 12.4c
3GB R299 9.9c
5GB R399 7.9c
25MB R7.25 29c
50MB R14.50 29c
100MB R29 29c
250MB R39 15.6c
500MB R69 13.8c
1GB R99 9.9c
2GB R139 6.9c
3GB R199 6.6c
5GB R299 5.9c
10GB R499 4.9c

Now read: How criminals secretly steal your airtime

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Don’t buy these mobile data bundles – Worst per-MB pricing in South Africa