MTN and Vodacom mobile data prices – 2010 vs 2020

Mobile data prices in South Africa have consistently declined over the past decade, improving Internet access as smartphone adoption continues to grow.

MTN and Vodacom’s data prices previously ranked as among the most expensive in South Africa – however, it is important to note that these operators also deliver better network quality and coverage than their competitors.

Vodacom and MTN spend large amounts of money ensuring they have wide-reaching and reliable networks. This is the reason they have had to charge more for their mobile data bundles – to earn money back for their capital expenditure (capex).

The easiest ways to cut data prices would be to cut network investment, meaning that South Africans would have worse connectivity, or to access new spectrum.

The latter option is preferable, as outlined by both mobile operators in their recent announcements of data price cuts.

Massive data price cuts

Despite not having access to new spectrum, and continuing to invest in their networks, Vodacom and MTN have dropped their data prices over the past 10 years.

Recently, the Competition Commission also published its final Data Service Market Inquiry report, which called for MTN and Vodacom to drop their data prices further.

Vodacom and MTN reached an agreement with the Commission to drop prices for sub-1GB 30-day data bundles by up to 40% and 50% respectively.

This means that smaller data bundles from both mobile operators have become substantially cheaper.

To illustrate how far mobile data prices have fallen over the past 10 years, we compared the prices of current Vodacom and MTN 30-day data bundles with their prices in 2010.

We also compared out-of-bundle data prices for each bundle, and noted that while Vodacom’s out-of-bundle rates are lower, out-of-bundle data on MTN has increased for several packages.

Data prices

2010 vs 2020 – Bundles
MTN – 2010 MTN – 2020 Vodacom – 2010 Vodacom – 2020
300MB R149 R60 (350MB) R139 R55 (325MB)
500MB R189 R75 R189 (600MB) R79
1GB R289 R99 R289 (1.2GB) R99
2GB R389 R189 R389 (2.4GB)

Out-of-bundle rates

2010 vs 2020 – OOB
MTN – 2010 MTN – 2020 Vodacom – 2010 Vodacom – 2020
300MB R0.50 R0.49 R0.63 R0.49
500MB R0.38 R1.20 (600MB)
1GB R0.29 R1.20 (1.2GB)
3GB R0.19 R1.20 (2.4GB)

Now read: Lockdown speeds – One mobile network is getting hammered and suffers more than others

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MTN and Vodacom mobile data prices – 2010 vs 2020