By Sihle Mavuso for IOL
In the wake of the Competition Commission ordering Vodacom and MTN to lower their exorbitant data prices, the ruling party says the two must voluntarily do so now than later.
MTN and Vodacom lost R22-billion of their combined value on Monday after the competition watchdog gave the two dominant mobile phone operators two months to slash internet connectivity prices or face prosecution.
The ANC, in response to the two mobile giants’ reasoning that data was so expensive because of the lack of spectrum, said that would be sorted in the near future and that should not be an excuse.
Joining the chorus of those welcoming the news that on the side battered the values of the companies, the ruling party said the current steep prices of data have a negative impact not only on the growth of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.
“We reiterate our call that operators must demonstrate goodwill by voluntarily lowering data prices and allow government to resolve the allocation of new spectrum. The release of spectrum, which the ANC supports, will resolve the network capacity constraints experienced by Mobile Network Operators and accelerate the roll-out of broadband networks in rural areas,” the party said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
On the high data costs, the party said the working class poor, youth, students and women are robbed of their income as they spend more than 25% on the telecommunications services including data services.
It said the majority of the country’s people, due to the widening digital divide, are unable to enjoy the benefits of a digital economy, which deprive the poor of full participation in the democracy of our country. It added that this further stifles development and growth of small businesses.
“The ANC further urges government to activate all regulatory mechanisms, i.e. Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to ensure the implementation of the findings and recommendations of the Competition Commission, with the necessary speed. Access to data in the 21st century is important because it facilitates the realisation of many rights enshrined in our Bill of Rights, as well as, enhancing economic participation and the strengthening of our democracy.”
Among its findings, the Competition Commission said while conducting its inquiry it started in 2017, it found that current comparisons of the prices charged by Vodacom and MTN in other African markets in which they operate also reveal that South African prices are higher than most countries by some distance.
One of South Africa’s biggest telcos has suffered two major resignations in just four days.
Vodacom CFO Till Streichert has resigned shortly after the company announced that its CTO Andries Delport would be leaving.
Vodacom confirmed Streichert’s resignation this morning, saying he will leave the company in June 2020 “to pursue an external opportunity outside of Vodacom”.
Streichert was appointed as the chief financial officer and an executive director of Vodacom Group in August 2015 after working as the finance director at Vodacom SA from February 2014. He was also appointed as a non-executive director of Vodacom Tanzania, Vodafone Kenya, and Safaricom in August 2017.
Delport resigned after 23 years with Vodacom, where he helped lead the network to be what it is today.
Delport’s resignation comes at a time when Vodacom is preparing for 5G and transitioning from a mobile network operator to an Internet of Things technology group. He was integral in helping to set up the first commercial 5G network in Africa in Lesotho. Lesotho launched 5G before South Africa, which has been restricted by a lack of spectrum. Only newcomer rain has launched a 5G offering in South Africa.
A recent article by MyBroadband explored how the popularity of VoIP services like WhatsApp has impacted voice income for South African major mobile networks: Vodacom, MTN, Telkom and Cell C.
- Vodacom has experienced a “slight decrease in the consumption of traditional voice minutes”, but said the advantages of traditional GSM calls still make it a good option for consumers.
- MTN told MyBroadband that it has “experienced a decrease in traditional calls and an increase in VoIP usage to match”.
- Cell C admitted they had noticed a decrease in the amount of traditional call minutes being used, but said that it had stabilised.
- Telkom told MyBroadband that it had “not seen a decrease in the average minutes of use per user for both on and off-network calling”.
However, according to We are Social, “WhatsApp is the biggest messaging app … in South Africa. We have 38-million unique mobile users, which grew by two million between 2017 and 2018. ”
The high costs of data in South Africa prevent many users from using WhatsApp’s full capabilities.
By Jamie McKane for MyBroadband
A Vodacom customer contacted MyBroadband this week stating that their mobile data bundles were being depleted on a “Last In First Out” (LIFO) basis, which is in contravention of ICASA’s regulations which came into effect on 1 March 2019.
Among other requirements, these regulations require networks to deplete data on a “First In First Out” (FIFO) basis.
This means that your older data bundles should be used up before your newer bundles in order to optimise the amount of data eligible for rollover.
Depleting newer data bundles first means that the average expiry date of a customer’s rolled-over data balance becomes earlier.
The customer who contacted MyBroadband received a 20GB data bundle on 1 March 2019 and was left with 4.27GB of this bundle on 31 March 2019. On 1 April 2019, the customer then received a new 20GB data bundle.
According to the FIFO system, the bundle with a balance of 4.27GB should have been depleted first when usage occurred – but the new 20GB bundle which expired on 30 April began depleting instead.
MyBroadband contacted Vodacom for feedback on this case to determine whether this was an isolated incident or a possible failure to switch to the new rules.
Vodacom told MyBroadband that applying new systems in line with the regulations to its large customer base was a technical challenge.
“To meet the requirements of the regulations, Vodacom had to apply an order of consumption rule change to a base of over 40 million subscribers in addition to a number of other changes brought about by ICASA’s charter,” Vodacom stated.
“As one might expect with a complex and technical implementation of this magnitude – arguably one of the largest in Vodacom’s history – there will be some glitches.”
Vodacom said its technical team has worked tirelessly to resolve these when they arise and is currently investigating the case mentioned above.
“[The affected customer]’s case is an isolated incident that our technical team is currently investigating as all customers should have their data depleting according to the FIFO order of consumption rules,” Vodacom stated.
Vodacom added that its new data depletion system has already been implemented which automatically prevents out-of-bundle use.
Customers can also purchase Vodacom’s Data Refill product or set an out-of-bundle limit if they wish to retain connectivity after depleting their data bundle.
By Chantall Presence for IOL
Vodacom on Wednesday announced it would rollover data for free following outrage from its customers and South Africa’s telecommunications regulator.
The mobile operator had initially indicated it would charge customers R49 to rollover unused data or transfer to data to friends and family.
In a statement, Vodacom detailed its new tariffs ahead of new data rules taking effect this week.
“From 1 March, remaining data on bundle purchases by all customers will be rolled over at no additional charge once a customer purchases the same bundle as the original one,” the statement said.
Transferring unused data will, however, come at a cost.
“Customers will be able to transfer data that is about to expire to friends and family on the Vodacom network for fees ranging from free for 50MB up to a maximum of R20 for 1GB.”
In a bid to lower the high cost of data in South Africa, the End-User and Subscriber Service Charter regulations were amended and come into effect on Thursday.
The new rules on data include consumers being notified of how much data they are consuming, people being given the option to roll over or transfer data before it expires, and mobile operators not being able to charge consumers out of bundle rates without their prior consent.
By Loni Prinsloo, Bloomberg/Fin24
MTN will replace its cross-town rival Vodacom in a network-sharing deal with Cell C, South Africa’s third-largest mobile phone operator.
Cell C, which has roamed on Johannesburg-based Vodacom’s network since 2001, will switch to MTN from next month, Cell C chief executive officer Jose dos Santos said in an email.
The bulk of services will be transferred within two months and will allow the operator to offer 3G and 4G connectivity in areas where Cell C has decided not to build networks, he said.
For MTN, the deal will help fund “our ongoing network expansion,” MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa said in a statement.
Cell C will roam on MTN’s network in smaller cities and rural areas, where the company has additional capacity. Vodacom couldn’t immediately comment.
South Africa is MTN’s largest market after Nigeria and the company has invested almost R30bn during the past three years to expand its network and catch up with Vodacom’s coverage in the country.
Vodacom’s new trading update has revealed quite a few interesting facts about the network giant. Let’s take a look at some of the things that stood out most.
The latest trading update from Vodacom has revealed that its service revenue in South Africa has grown by 4.9% to just over R14 billion. It seems they are also making quite a bit in terms of every South Africans least favourite word: “data”.
MyBroadband reported on the statement that explained that Vodacom had added huge amounts of new customers last year.
“We continued to see strong customer growth, adding 1.6 million customers in the quarter as we attracted new customers through our bundle and segmentation strategy,” said Vodacom.
While South Africans continue to complain about the ridiculous data costs here at home compared to other developing countries, data revenue grew by 8.7% for Vodacom. That increased brought the total data revenue to R6.0 billion, making up 42.3% of service revenue.
While data traffic growth on Vodacom’s SA network is slightly down from the previous quarter, overall traffic growth kept stable at 43.9%
Vodacom’s steps to reduce free data usage was the main reason for the decline. While we may say we hate bundles, the network says they are becoming ever more popular.
Vodacom was also keen to stress that the overall effective price it charged per megabyte was down just under 25% in the quarter.
The network says the money it makes is focussed on enhancing the quality of coverage across the country.
“During this quarter, our capital expenditure of R2.3 billion was focused on maintaining our best network advantage and enhancing our IT systems and deep learning machine capabilities,” said Vodacom.
Across the Vodacom network, 77.6% is LTE or 4G population coverage. 3G covers 99.4% of the network.
After MyBroadband first reported the R2 billion news, South Africans across social media were furious that the network giant was bringing in such large amounts off of their data.
By Nic Andersen for The South African
Network provider Vodacom has announced that it will “significantly reduce” out-of-bundle prices for all customers from mid-October.
“For pre-paid and customers on top-up packages, the out-of-bundle rate will drop by as much as 50% once the new 99c per megabyte tariff comes into effect on October 15.”The out-of-bundle rate for post-paid customers was reduced from R1 per megabyte to 89c on October 1,” the company said in a statement.
Group CEO of Vodacom Shameel Joosub said the company needs to expand 4G coverage 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 R32.7bn over the last four years. However, 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,” said Joosub.
Vodacom previously told Fin24 that it is committed to the process of drafting new regulations, after regulator Icasa said it would hold an inquiry in an attempt to reduce the country’s high data costs.
Vodacom joins Cell C, which recently responded to Icasa’s regulation of data by dropping out-of-bundle rates and extending bundle expiry.
In August it was announced that Icasa wanted to amend the End-user and Subscriber Service Charter Regulations by introducing “out-of-bundle billing practices” and other “expiry of data practices”.
Previously, the regulator announced it would hold an inquiry in an attempt to reduce high data costs.The probe will be conducted over four phases and will be completed in March 2018.
Kyle Venktess for Fin24
Vodacom is reimbursing subscribers who were affected by a billing issue on Monday night, the operator said on Twitter.
Customers took to social media last night, causing Vodacom to trend on Twitter, to complain about disappearing airtime and data.
Those affected by the billing bug complained about missing data and airtime depleting for no apparent reason.
Vodacom has committed to ensure that all affected customers will be refunded in full. On Tuesday morning, the mobile network said it had begun the process.
Vodacom said that all out-of-bundle charges incurred during the incident are being refunded, and that depleted bundles are being reinstated.
The technical glitch that drained data bundles from numerous customers was sparked by a configuration change to the network’s billing system.
Vodacom told Fin24 that the incident had been the first of its kind.
“The issue was caused by a configuration change on our prepaid and top up billing system that was problematic. We were able to isolate the cause and roll back this process during the course of last night (Monday),” Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy told Fin24 on Tuesday.
Kennedy said Vodacom had already reimbursed customers affected by the billing issue. All out-of-bundle charges incurred during the incident are being refunded, and depleted bundles are being reinstated.
“We are committed to ensuring that all customers are refunded in full,” Kennedy says.
Any customer who has not been reimbursed for their data loss should contact the call centre on 111, Vodacom said. The network would then conduct a short investigation to verify the amount of lost data, before refunding the user.
By Jan Vermeulen for MyBroadband; Kyle Venktess for Fin24
Vodacom will actively participate in the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (Icasa) consultation process on the draft regulations regarding data expiry periods and out-of-bundle billing.
Vodacom told Fin24 that it was committed to the process of drafting new regulations, after the communications regulator stepped into the going feud between consumers and networks over the high cost of data.
“Vodacom is aware of the draft regulation gazetted by Icasa regarding data expiry periods and out-of-bundle billing,” a company spokesperson told Fin24 this week.
“Vodacom is committed to bringing down data prices and has brought down effective data pricing by 44% over the last three years.
“Through the likes of Just4You, which offers customers hourly, daily, weekly and monthly bundles, Vodacom has made significant inroads in recent years in its pricing transformation journey,” the spokesperson said.
The latest step by Icasa to join the #DataMustFall campaign was aimed at regulating data expiry dates, according to a notice published in the Government Gazette on Monday.
Icasa intends to encourage networks to extend the validity of data bundles.
“With regard to out-of-bundle billing, Vodacom reiterates its position on this matter in that it remains fully committed to addressing these and has already started to implement its plans,” Vodacom told Fin24.
“We remain committed to consulting with the regulator in our shared quest to continuously address customer needs and improve the customer experience,” the company added.
The public has until September 19 to submit comment.
Prior to the recommendation, the regulator announced it would hold an inquiry to try reduce high data costs. This inquiry will be conducted over four phases and completed in March 2018.
These phases include a market study, discussion document, public hearings, and findings document. Members of the public would have 45 days to submit comments following each phase, News24 reported.
By Kyle Venktess for Fin24