Data remains a hot topic in South Africa. Pressure from consumers and the #datamustfall movement recently prompted regulator Icasa to abolish data expiry, which will mean that once you buy data its yours to use. No non-sensical expiring, vanishing or other skullduggery. But, if you’re planning on changing service providers or getting a new contract, a bit of research is key to getting the best deal on data you can.
Wherever possible, we’d recommend you stick to prepaid. Not only does it mean no operator can surprise you with a post-paid add-on for something you didn’t ask for, but it makes porting between operators much easier. Also, living the prepaid life is getting easier as operators are increasingly willing to offer SIM-only deals and you can finance your device through companies like FNB.
Looking for the best data prices isn’t much fun, so here at Stuff we’ve done the research for you and have put together the nifty table below of the prepaid data pricing (for May 2018) of Vodacom, Cell C, MTN, Telkom Mobile and FNB Connect.
|Vodacom||Cell C||MTN||Telkom Mobile||FNB Connect|
|5MB||R3 (Data Refill)||R5||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|50MB||R25 (55MB)||R20 (60MB)||R20||R14.50||R13|
|200MB||R63 (250MB)||R49||R60 (300MB)||R39||R60 (300MB)|
|5GB||R405||R399||R399 (6GB)||R199 (6GB)||R385|
Look out for added value
Up top we have a few numbers that will make it very clear which service providers’ prices are the most competitive (cough, Telkom, cough, FNB) and which is likely to win the coveted title of your service provider, but some have a few tricks up their sleeves. These are services that add value to the offering, and might cause you to reconsider, depending on your particular requirements.
Cell C is offering three months of free streaming time on the Black app, its local video-streaming platform. This means all current and new Cell C customers can stream online content on the Black app with the data for it being zero-rated. If you stream a lot, this could help.
If you’re travelling for work indefinitely, and data prices are just chowing through your wallet, best check out Rain or Afrihost for their LTE-A offerings, which is basically a ‘mobile fibre connection’ with unlimited data.
Rain offers free unlimited data for a certain amount of days for each contract type ranging from 15 days free to 90 days free. From there, you only pay for the data used, and do not have to load bundles like that with Afrihost — where you’d need to buy bundles. Each contract choice with Rain also includes a SIM card, a mobile dongle or a Huawei smartphone.
MTN and Vodacom haven’t been the only providers to choose from for ages, and since then a few MVNO’ (mobile virtual network operators) have entered the market like FNB Connect (which uses Cell C’s network) and Afrihost Mobile (which uses MTN’s network).
The brilliant thing about FNB Connect is that FNB clients will receive 15% of the money spent on data back in the form of eBucks (anything over R200/month). This means that your bundles effectively cost 15% less, making FNB Connect one of the the cheapest options out there. Just keep in mind that eBucks can’t be cashed out and can only be used at certain affiliated businesses, or to make purchases in the online eBucks store.
Afrihost, meanwhile, really shines if you’re willing to commit to a month-to-month contract. For example, you can get a SIM with 5GB of data (and 160 minutes a month) for a supremely competitive R416/month. Add Afrihost+ for an extra R109 a month and that data allowance doubles to 10GB.
Icasa may yet force data prices down, but while we’re waiting it certainly pays to shop around.