Vodacom offers 30% price cuts on data, free SMSs following the Data Service Market Inquiry

Following the release of the Data Service Market Inquiry and dialogue with the Competition Commission, Vodacom has agreed to drop its monthly data prices by over 30% – meaning that South Africans will spend less when purchasing data bundles and packages over the next two years.

The news follows from the release of the Data Service Market Inquiry Report, which chiefly outlined that while evaluating Vodacom and MTN, “the preliminary evidence suggests that there is scope for price reductions in the region of 30% to 50%”.

Presiding over the announcement, Competition Commission commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele confirmed that “The Commission is delighted to announce that it has reached a significant agreement with Vodacom to reduce the cost of data and promote digital inclusion”.

“Effective from 1 April 2020″, Bonakele continued, “prices will come down by over 30% across all channels. For example, the key 1GB monthly bundle will drop from R149 to no more than R99 per GB.”

The price cut will be followed by a similar reduction that will take place on, or near 1 April 2021, which Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub indicated would amount to a total reduction of 40% cumulatively.

“Following the release of the Data Service Market Inquiry report, Vodacom decided that instead of fighting with the Commission, it would engage constructively with the issues raised in the report,” Joosub offered.

Additionally, customers who have purchased Vodacom services within a rolling thirty-day period will also receive two free SMSs each day.

Zero-rated services

Vodacom further announced changes to its zero-rated services, which will enable consumers to access certain facilities for free. As of press time, this will include the ability to view and apply for job postings on Vodacom’s ConnectU platform, as well as access Facebook’s Flex service.

The full list of zero-rated services includes:

  • “Free access to job portals, where youth can search for employment and upload their CVs.
  • Free educational content like our e-School platform which provides CAPS curriculum-aligned content from Grades R – 12.
  • Free Health and wellness information through our Mum & Baby platform focused on equipping mothers and caregivers with advice on pregnancy, neonatal and childcare through SMS, educational articles, tutorials, videos and other tools.
  • Free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.
  • Access to two free SMS’s per day to customers, provided they have made a purchase in the past month and they can access these on the new portal.
  • Extending further discounted bundle offers to pre-paid customers in areas where the majority of people living beneath the food poverty line. This will benefit more than 2000 suburbs and villages, ensuring that this benefits people that really need it most.
  • Zero-rated access to select government sites to assist members of the public in accessing government services such as Home Affairs, Ambulance Services, Education sites and Government Communication Services. This will assist everyone in gaining access to much-needed government services as these are now moving into the digital space as well.
  • Expanding our zero-rated offering to all schools, universities and T-Vet colleges across the country. This will ensure that learners and students enrolled into these institutions will be able to access relevant information for free via their portals.
  • A full zero-rated internet search function powered by Wikipedia. This will allow customers access to the entire Wikipedia database of knowledge free of charge.
  • Free access to other essential information such as local and international headlines, trends and the weather.”

No word from MTN

While Vodacom has elected to shake hands with the commission and inquiry, MTN has elected to take the report on review.

At the time of the report’s publication, an MTN spokesperson elaborated that “we respectfully disagree with the analysis and recommendations contained in the summary report and, as we study the full report, will continue to engage constructively and vigorously defend against over-broad and intrusive recommendations”.

In response, Bonakele confirmed that the commission is “talking to all fo the other operators and are quite advanced in reaching agreements with both MTN and Telkom”.

Have your say!

What are your thoughts? Would you be more likely to either use Vodacom’s services or switch networks following the announcement? Be sure to let us know your opinion below!