Who’s the cheapest?

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) recently argued in parliament that the cost to communicate has come down in South Africa, even though the prepaid pricing advertised by operators doesn’t seem to indicate this.

Speaking for ICASA, William Stucke explained that there had been no real change in nominal advertised tariffs over the last three years.

Using methodology employed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operating and Development (OECD), ICASA calculated the cost incurred by users who make a certain number of calls every month.

Stucke explained that the OECD use a “basket approach” where a consumption pattern is described for different types of users and prices from each provider are used to calculate the resulting cost for these users.

ICASA’s presentation contained a set of graphs, two for each of South Africa’s mobile network operators showing the least and most expensive prepaid tariff trends over the last 3 years.

The values in the below tables were read from the graphs and may not be the exact figures used by ICASA, but they are included to indicate roughly whether operators compete closely or not.

Least expensive prepaid tariff plan basket pricing
Network 300 outbound calls per month 900 outbound calls per month
Cell C R750 R2,250
8ta R1,000 R3,000
Vodacom R1,000 R3,400
MTN R1,250 R3,750
Least expensive prepaid tariff plan based on OECD methodology - ICASA
Least expensive prepaid tariff plan based on OECD methodology – ICASA

When it comes to the cheapest prepaid tariff plans, ICASA’s analysis puts Cell C firmly ahead of the rest, no doubt due to the operator’s new 99c per minute on per second billing offering.

8ta noses ahead of Cell C when comparing their most expensive prepaid tariffs, though the two remain close together with Vodacom and MTN trailing far behind.

Most expensive prepaid tariff plan basket pricing
Network 300 outbound calls per month 900 outbound calls per month
8ta R1,250 R4,000
Cell C R1,500 R4,500
Vodacom R1,800 R6,800
MTN R2,000 R6,900
Most expensive prepaid tariff plan based on OECD methodology - ICASA
Most expensive prepaid tariff plan based on OECD methodology – ICASA

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Who’s the cheapest?