By Yolisa Tswanya for IOL
They said it could’ve been slashed even further, but consumers have for now accepted a 34% reduction in Vodacom’s data prices.
Yesterday, it became the first network giant to comply with the Competition Commission’s call to lower data prices.
Morné Grewe said he was happy a decision has finally been made: “It will make a difference for many people.
“Even though it’s by 34%, it is a step in the right direction.
“It will make a difference to people and they won’t be spending so much per month on data.”
Beronisha Cloete said she found Vodacom to have good coverage but high prices: “I have never had any real problems with them.
“It can be a little lower, but it is what it is and we accept it.”
Nomzamo Balangile said the price reduction would allow her to buy data more regularly.
“I don’t always buy data because it’s expensive, but now maybe I will be able to buy more times a month,” she added. “I am glad they are lowering the price.”
Vodacom and Rain consumers can RICA their sim-cards online, while MTN promises to improve RICA service in the near future.
- RICA stands for the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act
- All SIM cards in the country must be registered with a user’s personal details such as residential address and ID number
- Online registration allows customers to avoid queues
- Vodacom was the first telecommunications company to make use of online RICA in 2018, but this was only used to verify and update RICA information of existing customers
- Similar to an instore-RICA, consumers are required to have a valid South African identity document and a proof of residence that is no more than 3 months old
- MTN has pledged to partner with the Department of Home Affairs to leverage digital databases and biometric authentication to improve the process
- Cell C and Telkom do not allow for online RICA, with no plans in the near future to release the functionality
Vodacom Group Ltd. sees its African financial-services business as a cornerstone of growth as the wireless carrier expands into products such as funeral insurance and loans of as little as $2 (R30).
The unit of the U.K.’s Vodafone Group Plc uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to customize its financial offering depending on the different needs of markets ranging from Democratic Republic of Congo to Mozambique, Vodacom Chief Executive Officer Shameel Joosub said in an interview. “Our expectations are that we can grow this business segment at those levels for the next few years,” he said at the company’s head office north of Johannesburg.
Nano-loans are growing in popularity, the CEO said, with Kenya a particularly big market. Meanwhile funeral cover is popular among South African cultures that traditionally spend relatively large sums on ceremonies, he added.
“With nano lending we give people $2 or $3 loans and they pay us back within a few days,” Joosub said. “They can get food when needed, and water, and electricity.”
Mobile financial services have become a significant source of revenue for Africa’s telecom companies as the continent’s young and growing population take advantage of a growing availability of smartphones to overcome a lack of formal banking infrastructure. An estimated 84% of Africans will have access to a mobile connection within the next five years, according to a report by GSMA.
The increased use of mobile phones could boost the sub-Saharan Africa economy by as much as $150 billion during the same period, according to the report.
Vodacom has a target of 20% annual growth for financial services over the longer term as the business stabilizes from initial greater jumps off a low base. Sales from the division gained by 37% in the six months through September. The service fees for nano-loans are typically between 5% and 20%.
Vodafone is increasingly consolidating African operations under the Vodacom umbrella, and will give management control of its Ghana business to Joosub in April. The Vodacom CEO has also been appointed to the executive committee of the U.K. parent.
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