We knew Afrihost was planning to enter the mobile market after it began selling data SIM cards and accompanying packages a couple of years ago below the going rate. Then, for added certainty a mobile play was coming, mobile operator MTN acquired the internet service provider in late 2014. Now the details of the mobile packages on offer have emerged with a campaign Afrihost is referring to as an opportunity for South African mobile users to “get gruntled”.
In an email to existing Afrihost clients signed by CEO Gian Visser, the campaign takes a dig at existing mobile offerings (which includes those from parent company MTN). “Over the years I’ve always been disgruntled about some things that came with my cell phone package,” Visser says, before pointing to issues like the length of contracts, out-of-bundle rates for data, the challenges of monitoring usage and the like.
So, what do Afrihost’s mobile packages offer to alleviate these concerns? First up, month-to-month packages rather than long-term contracts, bundles of voice and data (without superfluous SMS or MMS bundles), the ability to manage ones package through Afrihost’s existing online Clientzone portal, the option to set limits on spending, real-time itemised billing at no charge (through the aforementioned portal), calls at 79c/minute (billed per second), SMS messages billed at 50c each (though there are bundles available), and — perhaps most compelling — an out-of-bundle data rate of 10c/MB.
Further, the first 1,000 customers to take up one of Afrihost’s new packages will get a once-off bonus of 10GB of mobile data to use as they see fit. The promotional data expires on 30 April 2016. Packages start at R99/month for the Mobile XS package which includes 50 anytime minutes (R39.50 of airtime) and 1GB of data and go up to R1,499/month for the Mobile 4XL package which includes 1,200 anytime minutes (R948 of airtime) and 10GB of data. You can find the full list of packages here.
Of course, it’s worth noting that MTN is providing the actual services, even if billing and administration are handled by Afrihost. Which means if you live in an area with shoddy MTN coverage none of these packages are for you.
When ordering an Afrihost mobile package consumers can opt to collect their new SIM or have it delivered to them for a fee of R149. They can also choose what size SIM they’d like based on the device they intend using it in and can opt to get a new number, port an existing number or, if they’re an existing MTN customer, opt-in to one of Afrihost’s offers using their existing number.
Like FNB Connect, the obvious appeal of Afrihost’s offers is twofold. First, the ability to self-provision services and track usage online and second, the lack of long-term commitment. Where Afrihost edges out FNB, though, is in being able to charge less for data, especially on its mid- to high-end packages, than either Vodacom or its parent company, MTN. It’ll be interesting to see how MTN responds, particularly if Afrihost can encourage enough existing MTN users to opt-in to its service.