Forget traditional voice calls – WhatsApp calling is cheaper

Voice revenue has continued to decline in South Africa, and an increasing number of users are turning to communication over mobile data and Wi-Fi due to the lower costs.

The most popular of these alternatives is WhatsApp, which allows you to make a voice or video calls over either a mobile data or Wi-Fi connection.

It is important to note that unlike conventional voice calls, receiving a WhatsApp voice call will consume your mobile data or Wi-Fi bandwidth.

Choosing to call over WhatsApp instead of dialing traditionally is a no-brainer when you consider the costs, however, and the quality is great as long as your connection is solid.

Cellular calls

When comparing the price of cellular calls on South African mobile networks, we used the standard tariffs for their default prepaid packages.

Rain is an exception, as it does not support cellular calls on its network.

The default tariffs for each mobile operator are listed below.

Operator Standard Prepaid Tariff Price (Minute)
Vodacom Power Bonus R1.53
MTN MTN Base R1.50
Cell C UltraBonus R1.75
Telkom Telkom More R1.90
Rain Data-only N/A

The call rates above show just how expensive voice calling remains in South Africa, with Telkom and Cell C charging almost R2.00 per minute.

However, it should be noted that the default tariff for these two plans include unique data promotions and other incentives, and are aimed at users who do not often use cellular calling.

WhatsApp calls – Out of bundle

While depleting data out-of-bundle can be expensive, South Africans can happily place WhatsApp calls without having an active data bundle and still use less airtime than conventional voice calls.

According to our previous tests of voice calling platforms, WhatsApp uses only 400kB of mobile data per minute of voice calling.

This makes it the best VoIP platform in terms of data consumption.

Using this figure of 400kB and the out-of-bundle rate of the standard prepaid tariff of each mobile network, we calculated the cost-per-minute for making a WhatsApp call using out-of-bundle data.

Rain’s flat rate of R50 per GB was used for its calculation, as it does not have “out-of-bundle” data.

The price of a WhatsApp call using out-of-bundle data is detailed below.

Operator Price per MB Price (Minute)
Vodacom R0.99 R0.40
MTN R0.49 R0.20
Cell C R1.75 R0.70
Telkom R0.29 R0.12
Rain R0.05 R0.02

WhatsApp calls – In bundle

To calculate the cost of an in-bundle WhatsApp call, we used the price of 30-day once-off data bundles from all operators.

The price of the 1GB data bundles on South Africa networks are listed below. It must be noted that Rain charges a flat rate of R50 per GB.

  • Cell C – R100
  • Vodacom – R149
  • MTN – R149
  • Telkom – R100
  • Rain – R50

The in-bundle price of a WhatsApp call on local networks is listed below.

Operator Price per MB Price (Minute)
Vodacom R0.15 R0.06
MTN R0.15 R0.06
Cell C R0.10 R0.04
Telkom R0.10 R0.04
Rain R0.05 R0.02

Now read: The astonishing story behind the Please Call Me fight between Vodacom and MTN

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Forget traditional voice calls – WhatsApp calling is cheaper