The mobile call rates price war is hotting up again in South Africa with Cell C announcing on Thursday that it is “taking a knife to its 66c promotional prepaid offering” by cutting the rate to 50c per minute.
Even more pleasing is the operator’s decision to introduce the new rate on per second billing – some operators have been known to offer seemingly low rates but bill per minute, making the actual rate higher than that which is advertised.
Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos, who took over from Alan Knott-Craig in May, says the operator is “exceptionally pleased to be able to continue to champion consumers’ right to affordable communication with the introduction of our new 50c per minute call tariff. It is really our way of thanking customers for taking up our offerings and a guarantee to them that we continue to fight for their best interests”.
Dos Santos says Cell C received an “overwhelming response” to its original 66c offering and that the promotional offer will be available from 25 July until 30 September 2014. He adds that Cell C will consider implementing this rate on a permanent basis once there is clarity regarding the Mobile Termination Rate Regulations, which are currently a topic of contention between regulator Icasa and mobile operators.
Existing Cell C customers can migrate to the new, reduced tariff by dialling *147# or calling 141 from their handset. Customers can also add data bundles (at a rate of 15c/MB or lower) by dialling *147# and selecting option 4.
The move is clearly intended to encourage more South African consumers to migrate from other networks to Cell C. The operator previously enjoyed success with this tactic when it cut call rates to 99c a minute. While Vodacom responded shortly thereafter with similar cuts, MTN was slow to react and reported a decline in prepaid users in its subsequent financial results.
Vodacom and MTN will have to respond to the move, the only question is how long they’ll take to do so.