Vodacom is, yet again, in the media. This time they have announced that they are dropping out-of-bundle data rates. This decrease will be effective from the middle of October for all Vodacom customers.
“For prepaid and customers on top-up packages, the out-of-bundle rate will drop by as much as 50% – once the new 99c-per-MB tariff comes into effect on 15 October,” Vodacom said in a recent press release.
With the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (Icasa) current inquiry into high data prices, is Vodacom taking the easy way out?
What’s Vodacom’s Latest Scheme?
South Africa’s network providers forever find themselves in the news. Whether it is data disappearance scandals or ridiculous costs, network providers are almost as big as politicians in the media.
Vodacom has been under fire for being one of the most expensive network providers in the country. However, they have recently announced that they will be reducing data prices.
Contract customers have already experienced a rate decrease and now prepaid and top-up customers are next in line. “The out-of-bundle rate for post-paid customers was reduced from R1 per MB to 89c on 1 October.”
Specific dates haven’t been set, so who knows if its actually going to happen or if Vodacom is just trying to smooth over their mistakes.
Vodacom has promised their customers that they are working on providing them with better value. But is this really the case?
According to Vodacom’s Group CEO, Shameel Joosub, the company has been cutting costs since last year. “We undertook to reduce out-of-bundle rates, and we’ve now delivered on that. This saving on data costs follows our reducing data prices by 18.9% over the last year alone.”
But Is This Enough?
A Vodacom spokesperson has mentioned that the company is providing other top-up services to encourage customers to purchase data bundles. The aim is to ensure that customers don’t pay exorbitant out-of-bundle rates but rather keep recharging their bundles.
“Over a three-year period, we have reduced data prices by more than 40% through the likes of our ‘Just4You’ platform available through the MyVodacom App and through USSD by dialling *123#. What this does is provide real-time, personalised offers to customers that provide even greater value.”
Although the idea is great, you shouldn’t rely on this platform as a means of receiving free data.
Vodacom has other planned improvements to ensure that customers receive the fastest speeds at good prices. “More needs to be done. We need to expand 4G coverage still further and keep pace with an increase of more than 45% in sustained data traffic demand. Both of these come at a cost, and we have invested some R32.7 billion over the last four years,” explains Joosub.
Vodacom is still, however, making excuses for their ridiculous prices…
The Blame Game
Although there has been a minuscule shift in Vodacom’s prices, they are still trying to excuse themselves from the expense they are costing their customers.
They claim that the price of improving infrastructure is the reason for the price increases, but is this really okay?
“Lack of access to spectrum is hampering our ability to drive down infrastructure costs and, in turn, enable us to pass savings to the consumer,” adds Joosub.
Icasa, howver, has other plans for network providers nationwide. Icasa plans to use their inquiry to put pressure on network providers in order to try and bring down data costs. Icasa’s plan has worked in previous years, as they have managed to bring down phone calls to less than 20 cents to interconnect a call.
The regulator plans to complete their inquiry my March 2018 so we should be expected to see some serious changes.
So Which Network’s Out-Of-Bundle Is The Cheapest?
|Network Providers||Out-Of-Bundle Data Prices for Prepaid/ Top-Up (per MB)||Out-Of-Bundle Data Prices for Contracts (per MB)|