Vox subscribers who have been with the Internet service provider for more than a year may not be getting the cheapest price possible on their packages.
This is due to price increases Vox implements every year across its active subscriber base.
“Vox annual price increases apply to the active customer base and our retail selling price of products are not necessarily increased as well,” the company explained.
When Vox launches new products, it also does not always automatically migrate subscribers or adjust the fees they pay.
Vox said there are two major reasons for price increases: significant increases in operating costs, and because fibre network operators have been increasing the costs of fibre lines to Internet service providers.
Vumatel, Openserve, Frogfoot, and Octotel are examples of fibre network operators (FNOs). They provide physical fibre-to-the-home infrastructure and are responsible for trenching and ducting.
Internet service providers (ISPs) are companies such as Afrihost, Cool Ideas, Supersonic, Telkom, and Vox. They sell services to the end-user on top of the infrastructure provided by FNOs.
Complicating this picture is the fact that companies can own and operate an FNO and ISP: Openserve is a division of Telkom, Vox owns Frogfoot, and MTN owns Supersonic.
Similarly, Community Investment Ventures Holdings (CIVH) owns Vumatel and SA Digital Villages (through Dark Fibre Africa).
“There has been a trend recently where the FNOs are starting to apply annual increases,” Vox told MyBroadband. “This affects all ISPs and often the percentage increase is really large.”
As a result of the large increases in its input costs, Vox said it is forced to pass on the increases to its customers and increase selling prices to remain profitable.
Example of Vox increases in action
This investigation began after I noticed peculiarities on my own account.
In May, Vox announced that it was introducing significant changes to its fibre products that run on the Frogfoot network. Vox said this was due to Frogfoot implementing price increases on its lines.
There were two major changes:
- Clients on Vox’s existing asymmetric FTTH packages on Frogfoot saw a decrease in upload speeds.
- Vox introduced symmetric FTTH packages for clients on Frogfoot.
When Vox made this announcement in May, my monthly bill was R1,279 for a 100Mbps Pro Uncapped account. It had been increased by 5.8% on 1 January, and I had received notice of the increase from Vox a month prior.
Officially, my account was rated for 100Mbps download and 50Mbps upload speed. However, Due to some quirk in my coverage area, I was receiving symmetric speeds — 100Mbps up and down.
When the new Frogfoot packages kicked in, my upload speed was downgraded to 10Mbps. Vox said the reason for this reduction was to avoid additional price increases, as it had already implemented a price increase in January.
However, closer investigation of the prices of Vox’s FTTH products on Frogfoot revealed that I was paying more than a new subscriber would for a symmetric Pro Uncapped account — R1,275 per month for 100Mbps download and upload speeds.
In other words, I was paying R4 per month more than the retail price of Vox’s symmetric Pro Uncapped package, and receiving 90Mbps less on my upload speed.
Beat the price increases
When queried about the disparity between the price I was paying and the symmetric Pro Uncapped package, call centre operators and company spokespeople gave the same answer.
Existing subscribers are subject to annual price increases. Retail price adjustments are a separate matter, and active clients will not always be automatically migrated to lower prices.
This means that, like car insurance, you should contact Vox at least once a year to ensure that you aren’t paying more for a service than a new client is.
To make sure you are on the best package for the price you are paying, or to switch to a cheaper package when there are price reductions, you can log into the Vox customer portal or call the company’s support centre.