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Not all mobile data is (priced) equal

Save hundreds a month by using social bundles …

Mobile operators have begun distinguishing between different kinds of traffic and providing differentiated data bundles for services such as WhatsApp, social media platforms (including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) and music as well as video services such as YouTube. The prices of these bundles (Vodacom calls its service-specific bundles ‘tickets’) are significantly lower than typical data bundles offered by the networks.

The 1GB video bundles offered by operators, for example, cost between R50 (MTN) and R60 (Telkom and Vodacom) and offer access to either only YouTube (in the case of the former), or a range of video services (such as DStv Now and Showmax) in the case of the latter two. Compare this to the price of a standard 1GB bundle valid for a month, which ranges from between R100 (Telkom’s FreeMe Prepaid Summer promotion) to R149 (on the other three networks).

Given its pervasiveness, as well as its relatively low data footprint (when compared to social and video services), WhatsApp bundles are the most common across the four mobile operators in South Africa. MTN and Vodacom each offer WhatsApp-specific bundles, while Cell C offers ShoutOut bundles for access to both WhatsApp and Facebook (excluding calling on either, as well as Facebook Messenger). Telkom doesn’t really need to offer WhatsApp bundles as WhatsApp messaging and calling is free on all its FreeMe plans (both contract and prepaid).

WhatsApp

Daily

3 days

Weekly

Monthly

Cell C1

R4 (80MB)

R17 (1 200MB)

R49 (4GB)

MTN

R2 (50MB)

R5 (100MB)

R10 (250MB)

Telkom

* Free WhatsApp in all FreeMe plans (contract and prepaid)

Vodacom

R2 (30MB)

R4 (200MB)

R5 (100MB)

R10 (200MB)

R29 (1GB)

1 Includes Facebook.

For other services, excluding WhatsApp, the operators offer a number of different bundles. MTN’s bundles are specific to each service: it has different bundles for Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Vodacom, by contrast, offers a Social Ticket which includes a data allocation for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for either a day, a week or a month. Telkom doesn’t yet offer social-specific bundles, but it could argue that its data pricing is the most competitive in the country.

Telkom offers bolt-on music and video streaming bundles via its LIT service and these are competitively priced. But customers on the Telkom FreeMe 2GB plan or above (prepaid or contract) get a music streaming allocation, while those on a FreeMe 5GB plan or above get free video streaming along with music.

Bundle

Daily

Weekly

Monthly

Cell C ShoutOut (Facebook, WhatsApp)

R4 (80MB)

R17 (1 200MB)

R49 (4GB)

MTN Facebook

R5 (100MB)

R20 (500MB)

R50 (1GB)

MTN Twitter

R5 (100MB)

R20 (500MB)

MTN YouTube

R5 (100MB)

R20 (500MB)

R50 (1GB)

Telkom LIT Music1

R4 (75MB)

R7 (100MB)

R25 (500MB)

R40 (1GB)

R60 (1GB)

R100 (2GB)

Telkom LIT Video2

Vodacom Music Ticket3

R8 (250MB)

R35 (750MB)

R60 (1GB)

Vodacom Social Ticket4

R8 (250MB)

R35 (750MB)

R60 (1GB)

Vodacom Video Ticket5

R8 (250MB)

R35 (750MB)

R60 (1GB)

1 LIT music streaming allocation (fair usage of 10GB) available to all FreeMe customers on FreeMe 2GB and above. Includes Apple Music, Google Play Music and Simfy Africa. A LIT Music monthly bundle (10GB) is available to all Telkom customers.

2 LIT video streaming allocation (fair usage of 50GB) available to all FreeMe customers on FreeMe 5GB and above. Includes YouTube, Google Play Movies, Netflix (SA), DStv Now and Showmax.

3 Includes Apple Music, Deezer and Joox.

4 Includes Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest; excludes Facebook Messenger.

5 Includes YouTube, DStv Now, Showmax and VuClip.

There is a catch if you’re an MTN customer, however. MTN’s social and WhatsApp bundles are only available to prepaid customers. Vodacom Tickets are available to all customers (prepaid, top-up and contract), as are Cell C’s ShoutOut bundles (which are valid for a promotional period until January 31, 2019). Telkom’s LIT bundles are also available to its entire mobile customer base.

You would do well to figure out which of these services you (or your family members) use heavily and bolt-on a specific bundle for it. In my case, for instance, I can get 2GB of social data (via two Vodacom Social Tickets) and 1GB of WhatsApp data for less than the price of a standard 1GB data bundle. Where the bundles and tickets don’t make sense, however, is when you’re a heavy video user as you’re limited to buying 1GB of data at a time. In this case, Telkom’s LIT bundles offer great value for those not already on the higher value FreeMe packages, which are – by themselves – a complete no-brainer.

More info:

* Hilton Tarrant works at YFM. He can still be contacted at hilton@moneyweb.co.za.

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Vodacom does not provide any limitation technique or cut-off for data roaming while traveling. They want you to mistakenly use the data without knowing. When you ask them to reduce a massive data roaming bill they will reduce it by about 80% as they have a set format letter which they use… complete trap and extortion

If you know contractual law you realise that almost every single one of these contracts we enter into is a trap and complete extortion.

We’re being absolutely ripped off in this country by service providers.

Absolutely. My contract was changed without my consent but Vodascum are adamant someone in the company authorised it but they cannot send me the authorisation – I must go into a shop to hear it. This seems completely illegal – if you allege you have a contract variation, prove it to me – don’t expect me to go and find it at one of your shops.

Licenced ripoff.

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