Overall, Vodacom and Telkom Mobile have South Africa’s best post-paid mobile plans, new data from telecommunications research firm Tarifica claims to show. Virgin Mobile scored bottom of the list, coming in in fifth place overall behind Cell C and MTN, but MTN failed to emerge as the winner in even a single category.
The Tarifica scores — see the full ranking below this article — are calculated using an algorithm to evaluate mobile plans based on the value they offer consumers. The company specialises in tracking global telecoms prices, with a focus on mobile.
The top two rated mobile plans (without bundled phones) on Tarifica’s rating system are Vodacom’s Smart S (with 1GB data promotion) and the version of Telkom Mobile’s Completely Unlimited plan that comes with a handset. The top plan with a phone is from Telkom Mobile, with its Completely Unlimited plan.
“Telkom Mobile’s plans stood well above those from other operators. It offered the best plan in four of the 10 market segments, and had competitive plans in several others,” said Tarifica research analyst Melissa Mascarenhas. “This success was largely driven by the company’s relatively low prices and generous data allowances.”
For its analysis, Tarifica divided contract plans into five segments that correlate with their monthly cost — under R100, R101-R300, R301-R500, R501-R1 000 and more than R1 000. Each of these was then subdivided into two categories — “with phone” and “without phone”.
Tarifica then scored the post-paid plans, with the ratings taking into account what each plan provides consumers. This included bundled minutes, SMS, MMS and data. Network speeds and value-added elements such as international calling allowances and roaming benefits were also considered.
The rating system is intended to provide objective comparisons of the mobile plans available in South Africa, giving consumers an “apples-to-apples comparison, even in cases where plans appear quite different on their surface”.
Tarifica indicated that although Vodacom was able to secure the overall top spot, it was only able to to capture one other market segment, the under R100/month without a phone category.
In comparison, Cell C scored well in the midrange price plans, winning three of the four segments between R301 and R1 000.
The Tarifica scores show MTN and Virgin Mobile struggling to attain high ratings in most categories. Although Virgin Mobile took the honours for the best plan that included a phone for under R100/month, MTN’s plans “simply did not measure up”.
The telecoms research firm said MTN failed to win a single market segment, with a majority of its plans ranked near the bottom of their respective categories.
“This poor performance was driven by a combination of relatively slow data speeds, high costs, limited features and low allotments,” it said.
“We predict that as growing numbers of South Africans adopt more data-heavy usage habits, as is expected in the near future, MTN will either be forced to radically rework its plans or experience significant customer loss,” said Tarifica senior programme director Kenneth Dolsky. — © 2014 NewsCentral Media