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).
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.
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 31 January 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.
- This article was originally published on Moneyweb and is used here with permission