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MTN giveth – and taketh away – with new data bundles

New prepaid pricing clearly designed to drive more usage (and spend).

MTN has announced adjustments to its prepaid data bundles as well as pricing, in a move it says is “in line with customer needs and market trends”. The new bundles and pricing, effective March 5 2018, reduce what the operator calls “overlaps”.

For those bundles where a direct comparison between the old price and new price is possible – it removed some bundle sizes and introduced others – pricing has decreased for all monthly data bundles. These price drops range between 7% on the 1GB monthly bundle, to 28% on the 20GB one. On average, pricing has been reduced by around 20%. 

MTN has, however, discontinued the 500MB, 2GB and 5GB monthly data bundles, as well as the (completely illogical) 5MB one. 

Price psychology is definitely key to some of these changes. For example, by removing the 500MB monthly bundle, subscribers now effectively get 600MB of data for R6 less (R99 vs R105). But, for ‘just’ R15 more than the old 500MB price, they can get 750MB of data. It has surely run the numbers and figured out the price elasticity of demand with these new options.

In a similar manner, it has discontinued the 2GB monthly bundle (R260), but now offers 3GB for ‘only’ R39 more (R299). By cutting the price of the 1GB bundle to R149 from R160, it also forces those customers who typically buy 1GB to choose between paying less for the same amount of data, or “just” R29 more than the old 1GB price for 50% more data (1.5GB).

It must be noted that the change in pricing to the 1GB monthly bundle has realigned MTN’s pricing with Vodacom’s and Cell C’s (previously, it was the most expensive).

It is no surprise that these changes which force subscribers into making new purchase decisions have happened around the 500MB and 1GB/2GB marks. These are very popular average monthly usage amounts, in the middle market.

In the lower end (under 300MB monthly), the price cuts are clearly designed to get subscribers to spend a little more than they used to in order to get more data. For example, a subscriber who previously bought 50MB at R25 is now ‘incentivised’ to spend R29 for 100MB. The new 150MB monthly bundle at R39 achieves the same purpose, by incentivising subscribers who used to spend R35 on data to spend ‘just R4’ more.

The operator has also introduced fairly competitively priced ultra-large monthly bundles (30GB, 50GB and 100GB) for which there is surely some demand (possibly in the small business space).

  Old New Change
5MB R4    
20MB R12 R10 -17%
50MB R25 R20 -20%
100MB R35 R29 -17%
150MB   R39  
300MB R85 R60 -29%
500MB R105    
600MB   R99  
750MB   R120  
1GB R160 R149 -7%
1.5GB   R189  
2GB R260    
3GB R330 R299 -9%
5GB R430    
6GB   R399  
10GB R650 R499 -23%
20GB R1250 R899 -28%
30GB   R1249  
50GB   R1999  
100GB   R3499  
30MB   R10  
50MB R10    
60MB   R12  
100MB R15    
120MB   R17  
200MB   R25  
300MB R35    
350MB   R40  
500MB R45 R55 22%
1GB R65 R70 8%
2GB   R99  
5GB   R199  
1GB R89 R110 24%

All but two weekly data bundles have been discontinued and replaced with new sizes. For example, the 100MB weekly bundle (which used to cost R15) again requires the subscriber to choose between paying slightly less for less data (R12 for 60MB), or just a little more for a more data (R17 for 120MB). While the effective price per megabyte reduces slightly (14c vs 15c previously), it is clear that the operator is, like with the monthly bundles, incentivising prepaid subscribers to spend more on data. The two weekly bundles which have not been discontinued, 500MB and 1GB, are now 22% and 8% more expensive, respectively.   Aside from the monthly data bundle changes, MTN has also tweaked its weekly and fortnightly prepaid bundles and pricing. The single fortnightly bundle available (1GB) is now 24% more expensive (R110 from R89), and will without doubt incentivise those subscribers who previously purchased this to consider monthly or even weekly bundles instead.

Jacqui O’Sullivan, executive for corporate affairs: MTN South Africa, says “The new packages aim to offer more for more, are competitive within the market and will reduce consumer worries of out-of-bundle bill surprises putting them in control of their data usage.”

“By analysing customer patterns we’ve identified the need for these newly-restructured bundles to ensure that customers’ data and usage is matched while letting them control their data spend. Ultimately, this gives more value for customers and more savings at the end of the month.”

Because of the increase in VAT from 14% to 15% on April 1, pricing on all operators will change. Details of these amendments are scheduled to be announced this week.

Hilton Tarrant works at immedia. He can still be contacted at 

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As far as pre-paid data goes, the Cell C Mega “200GB” for R1,999 (once-off) valid for 365days, remains hard to beat. (1c/MB)

Hello Hilton Tarrant or anybody else,
Can you give any clarity on Mtn’s 180 day and 365 day bundles, as I have been using Mtn’s 30GB 180 day bundle for my VSM (very small business), but it seems it has been discontinued.
Is that true?


Hello, I phoned Mtn and even though the Call Centre representative was very helpful they do not know their products. As previously you could buy a 180 day 30 GB once-off data bundle, which the representative did not know about. Now 2GB * 6 months recurring bundle – 24GB – is the only Long Term high end 180 day option left.

Therefore, the 180 day 30GB once-off bundle along with the once-off 365 day bundles has been discontinued by Mtn.

Hello, I phoned Mtn. Previously you could buy a 180 day 30 GB once-off data bundle. Now 2GB * 6 months recurring bundle – 24GB – is the only Long Term high end 180 day option left.

Therefore, the 180 day 30GB once-off bundle along with the once-off 365 day bundles has been discontinued by Mtn.

P.S. my previous comment was held for moderation because I was critical about a certain companies employees knowledge of there products without using expletives or being unfair, as it is my subjective experience. What is that about?

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