Data prices have dropped following the Competition Commission’s ruling in 2019 that South African network operators have room to slash data prices by 30% to 50%, and Cell C now offers the best value for money prepaid mobile data in the market.
While operators offer cheaper data bundles with shorter expiry windows, the Competition Commission was interested in getting cellular operators to cut prices on their monthly and 30-day bundles.
One of the Commission’s aims was to reduce the gap in per-megabyte pricing between larger and smaller data bundles in an effort to make data more affordable for poorer consumers.
By all accounts, the Commission’s negotiations with Vodacom and MTN were a success, though the networks said their price reductions will only be sustainable if they receive additional radio frequency spectrum.
“We make this move proactively in the hope that spectrum will be allocated this year,” Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said in March 2020.
“The spectrum delays do not affect the agreements that have been made. The trust factor for Vodacom is ‘drop the prices and spectrum will come’.”
In October 2018 a 10MB Vodacom bundle cost R15 (66c per-MB) compared to a 10GB bundle for R605 (6c per-MB).
Now the cheapest 30-day prepaid bundle available from Vodacom is 50MB for R12 and the largest is 20GB for R699, at 24c and 3.4c per-MB respectively.
A recent MyBroadband article analysed the variation between bundle pricing in 2019 compared to 2021, and it found that Vodacom’s prepaid prices dropped by between 12.5% and 50%.
MTN’s headline prepaid prices were reduced by between 6% and 33.6%.
To analyse the way pricing varies between different bundles, and which network operator offers the best rates at various bundle sizes, we have calculated the per-MB prices of 30-day bundles from the four major mobile networks, and detailed these in the table below.
It must be noted that Rain offers an unlimited mobile data package for R299 a month, though users can’t make traditional phone calls or send SMS messages.
|Per-MB Data Prices|
|Data Bundle||Price||Price Per-MB|
|Cell C (Excl. Nite Data)|
|2GB (+ 1GB Nite)||R95||4.6c|
|3GB (+ 3GB Nite)||R149||4.9c|
|4GB (+4GB Nite)||R199||4.9c|
|6GB (+ 5GB Nite)||R249||4.1c|
|12GB (+ 7GB Nite)||R299||2.4c|
|Cell C – Home Connecta Flexi Prepaid (Excl. Nite)|