In other parts of the world, you can get all of your communication necessities along with your entertainment indulgences from one company. Which means one bill, and one call centre to contend with when things go wrong. The appeal is obvious. Now mobile operator Cell C has launched a converged service of its own called MediaPlay. It’s something South Africa could certainly use… but will it work?
MediaPlay gives consumers access to general usage data, minutes for voice calls, exclusive streaming data for Cell C’s Black streaming video service, and SMSes (in case you still use those for anything other than “Reply ‘No’ to opt out” messages), all in one package, paid for monthly. The connection choices vary from purely mobile connectivity, to fixed 4G/LTE options, and fibre. Which a user chooses will obviously depend on their needs, budget and the availability of the various services in their area.
The mobile option is basic, you get call minutes, data and SMSes on a contract, but you receive dedicated data (unlimited in some cases) to watch series and movies on streaming platform, Black.
Then, you’ve got the LTE and fibre offerings. The LTE package includes an LTE SIM card with a finite amount of data for browsing the internet, but the line will also be restricted to a ‘fair-use policy’ of 2GB per day per SIM card.
The fibre option requires a line installation, but will give you unlimited data over fibre, along with one to three SIM cards depending on the package. The SIM cards are loaded with monthly data and minutes and, again, dedicated Black data.
Is it worth it?
This is definitely something South Africans can really make use of to streamline billing process and banking, and especially the fibre/SIM package looks inviting. But the streaming service that’s included in every single package as ‘added value’ is going to need to check itself.
It is evident from the reviews Black has on the Google Play Store, that the streaming service has a lot of work to do when it comes to technical capabilities and content offering. Many users report being unable to log into their accounts, and in some cases, the app won’t even open.
In our own experience, assuming we can actually get into Black, the user interface is horribly confusing, and just finding anything we actually want to watch — let alone working out how to pay for it or what various bundles include — seems to require more education than we have, or simply more luck. This isn’t good enough in a constantly evolving industry of streaming content, where the competition comes from the likes of Netflix, Showmax and Amazon Prime Video.
Black is going to have to get a whole lot less complex and actually be an attractive service if it’s going to work to attract new customers to Cell C’s converged offering, or get existing customers to switch to it.
You can check out the MediaPlay plans on their website and place orders directly from there. Plans range in price from R150/month to R2,000/month for the premium fibre plan. If you’re still a bit lost, Cell C’s YouTube channel has a range of instructional videos that clearly explain what MediaPlay is and how it works.