MTN slashes data prices

MTN slashes data prices

In line with directives issued by the Competition Commission, MTN has reduced the prices of its monthly data bundles.

The Commission’s Data Service Market Inquiry found that MTN and Vodacom must reduce their data pricing and offer a free “lifeline” data allocation to all customers.

MTN said it would reduce monthly data bundles prices by between 25% – 50% effective from 15 April 2020.

“As an example, the 1GB data bundle for R149 is now going to drop to R99,” Motsa said. “We will charge a maximum of R99 per GB.”

“This continues the work MTN SA has done to improve the affordability of data for its customers, having already brought the effective rate of data on its network down by 76% between February 2017 and February 2020. ”

OpenTime and free Ayoba data

In terms of a lifeline data allocation, MTN South Africa will provide each of its customers with 20MB of free data daily through its instant messaging platform, Ayoba.

Ayoba currently has 500,000 customers in South Africa and is expected to continue to scale through the lifeline offering, MTN said.

The operator will also launch its OpenTime service in April 2020, offering customers access to a variety of public benefit platforms through a single website.

“MTN SA will offer a monthly 500MB free data access to public benefit services websites every month, amounting to 6GBs per year, for each of MTN SA’s 29 million customers,” the company said.

The company said that while there will be pressure on its finances due to these initiatives, it believes that this price drop will be compensated by elasticity and customer growth.

Motsa also stressed the importance of spectrum being allocated to mobile operators in South Africa.

“The release of new spectrum in South Africa is urgently needed and will greatly assist our ability to service increased customer demand in a more cost-effective manner,” Motsa said.

USSD changes

MTN said that it will also enhance its customers’ ability to review their data rates and usage through its zero-rated USSD menus.

“This service will be available to all customers and is free of charge,” MTN said.

Through these channels, customers will be able to view their usage history and effective rate for the last five bundles purchased in the current month.

“MTN customers will also be presented with an option to access the most affordable bundles based on their unique user profile.

Customers can dial *136*5# or *135# free from their smartphone to access the new “Usage Rate” menu.

From here, customers will have two options:

  • Option 1 – View their usage and effective rate for the last five bundles purchased in the current calendar month
  • Option 2 – View affordable bundles based on their unique usage profile

The image below shows how MTN’s monthly data prices will change from 15 April 2020.

MTN 30 day bundle price changes

Vodacom price cuts

This follows after Vodacom reached an agreement with the Competition Commission on 10 March 2020.

As part of this agreement, Vodacom agreed to drop its monthly data prices across the board by up to 40% over a two-year period.

This will begin with a price cut of over 30% for its monthly data bundles which will take effect from 1 April 2020.

Vodacom also launched new zero-rated services, a free daily SMS allocation for prepaid subscribers, and it improved the transparency of its mobile data pricing.

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub reiterated the need for spectrum to drive down data prices in South Africa.

“We make this move proactively in the hope that spectrum will be allocated this year,” Joosub said.