8ta, Cell C, and MTN have all recently launched BlackBerry data plans with fewer features at lower prices, with Vodacom saying that they will soon launch cheaper packages of their own.
BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) affords South African BlackBerry users unlimited on-device browsing, e-mail, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), and downloads from BlackBerry App World.
Many third-party apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Talk, and WhatsApp, are reported to also make use of BIS for their data connection.
BIS is available on contracts and pre-paid, with typical prepaid pricing of R59 for 30 days of service.
Virgin Mobile first launched BIS bundles cheaper than this in February 2012 by using a model that offered full BIS for shorter periods. The virtual mobile network operator introduced a 7-day bundle for R19, while 14 days of BIS would cost you R29.
8ta was first to launch a “BlackBerry Social & E-Mail” plan during June 2012 at R30/month. This offered the same benefits as BIS, with a limit of one web-based e-mail account.
Cell C and MTN soon followed suit, launching their own cheaper BlackBerry data services with reduced feature-sets.
The table below shows how the bundles compare:
|Feature-specific BlackBerry plans||8ta||Cell C||MTN||Vodacom||Virgin Mobile|
|BlackBerry Social & E-Mail||R30||R37||R29.95**||N/A||N/A|
|BlackBerry Internet Service||R59||R57||R59||R59||R59|
|* 10MB, out-of-bundle rate is R1/MB|
|** 25MB, out-of-bundle rate is R1/MB|
The BlackBerry Social plan available from Cell C offers access to social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and BBM, and one BlackBerry e-mail account, but no general web access, and no additional e-mail accounts.
MTN offers a similar bundle, but instead of limiting web access it instead imposes a data usage limit of 10MB.
Similarly, MTN’s Messaging plan caps users at 10MB, but also only allows access to BBM and one web-based e-mail account.
Although BlackBerry boasts being the most bandwidth efficient smartphone, MTN’s caps take away one of the most attractive features of BIS: not worrying about usage.