Afrihost, Capitec dominate in MVNO data price shootout

Afrihost’s mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Air Mobile is the most affordable in the country for large data bundles, while Capitec Connect is the cheapest for lower data allocations.

MVNOs offer South Africans an alternative to using the country’s prominent mobile operators, Vodacom, MTN, Telkom, and Cell C.

These companies don’t have a mobile spectrum licence but sell cellular services roaming on the infrastructure of a licensed mobile operator.

Cell C is the biggest mobile virtual network enabler in South Africa.

MTN is another significant player in the MVNO space. It also builds and maintains Cell C’s cellular network infrastructure.

The country has seen somewhat of an MVNO explosion in recent years, with five of the 13 major players in the market launching in the past three years.

According to data from a recent Analytico survey, Afrihost Air Mobile is the most popular MVNO operating in the country, followed by FNB Connect and Capitec Connect.

Afrihost Air Mobile received 38% of the votes from over 3,800 respondents, with FNB Connect and Capitec Connect receiving 24% and 15% of the votes, respectively.

MVNO price shootout

MyBroadband compared various South African MVNOs’ prices and validity periods for common data bundle sizes — 100MB, 500MB, 1GB, 5GB, and 10GB.

Capitec Connect was the cheapest for lower data allocations, with 100MB and 500MB bundles costing R4.50 and R22.50, respectively.

However, as the MVNO charges a flat rate of R4.50 per 100MB, prices reach as high as R450 for 10GB — R300 less than Afrihost Air Mobile’s pricing for the bundle.

Capitec Connect customers’ data bundles never expire.

Afrihost Air Mobile was the most affordable for 1GB and 10GB bundles and had the second-cheapest 5GB bundle.

The MVNO’s customers can get 1GB of data for R30, 5GB for R100, and 10GB for R150, all of which are valid for 60 days.

Axxess Mobile offers the cheapest 5GB data bundles at R99, and its bundles are valid for 90 days.

Axxess Mobile customers have only this bundle and a 15GB option. Because its pricing was comparable to several of the other MVNOs’ 10GB bundles, we have included it in that category.

Shoprite K’nect’s bundle prices differ depending on whether or not the user is also a Money Market account holder. These customers get the bundles at half their regular price, making for the cheapest 500MB and 1GB options in the country.

The table below compares prices and validity periods for 100MB, 500MB, 1GB, 5GB, and 10GB data bundles from South Africa’s prominent MVNOs.

MVNO data price comparison
MVNO Validity period 100MB 500MB 1GB 5GB 10GB
Afrihost Air Mobile 60 days R10 R30 R100 R150
FNB Connect 30 days R39 R59 R249 R469
Capitec Connect Never expires R4.50 R22.50 R45 R225 R450
Standard Bank Mobile 30 days R69 R79 R299 R399
Axxess Mobile 90 days R99 R249**
Melon Mobile 30 days R40 R55 R149 R199
Shoprite K’nect* 60 days R10/R5 R35/R17.50 R39/R19.50 R149 R250
MRP Mobile 30 days R20 R59 R89
Hello Mobile 30 days R85 R299 R469
Me & You Mobile 30 days R15 R39 R55 R249
*Shoprite Money Market account holders get a 50% discount on Shoprite K’nect bundles up to 2GB.
**Axxess Mobile doesn’t sell a 10GB bundle. The price shown is for its 15GB bundle.

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Afrihost, Capitec dominate in MVNO data price shootout