MTN has the most complex post-paid packages among South African mobile operators, while Cell C’s are the simplest to understand.
This is the conclusion of Tariffic, a recently launched independent company that analyses and optimises the cellphone spend of high-end consumers and business users.
Tariffic uses an in-house-developed software suite that helps users cut through what it calls the “bewildering choice and complexity” and “lack of transparency” in South African mobile contracts. These factors make it “nearly impossible” for users to choose a package that is aligned with their needs, the company says.
It claims it will reduce mobile bills by an average of 40% and, in the case of some clients, has helped to reduce spending by more than 80% by moving them onto more effective tariff plans and options.
Tariffic MD and founder Adam Pantanowitz says that by analysing thousands of customer bills, the company has been able to determine that of all of South Africa’s four mobile operators, Cell C offers customer the simplest contract packages, whereas MTN’s plans are the most complicated.
“The structure that MTN uses actually creates the most mathematical complexity when you try to model this problem,” Pantanowitz says. “I would say MTN’s contract packages are most complex.”
Tariffic believes that South African mobile tariffs are among the most complex in the world. “Apart from the way the industry is structured, and models and concepts such as off-net and on-net, and peak and off-peak, and so on, there’s also complexity in the availability of information,” says Pantanowitz.
“Some markets have central repositories where new tariff plans are posted, and those are then readily accessible. For us, a major challenge has just been trying to get the information that we require, whereas in other markets it’s a lot more accessible.”
Tariffic says it provides ongoing analysis and support to customers so they remain up to date with the changing cellular landscape, ensuring they’re always on a plan that makes sense to them.
“With more than 10 000 options available, comprising different cellphone contracts, data and SMS bundle combinations … few cellular users know which choice is actually the right one for their needs,” says Pantanowitz. “The picture is complicated further by opaque terms and conditions and the industry’s use of jargon.
“The result is that millions of cellphone users are on the wrong packages, and overspend by hundreds of millions of rand between them each month. This is a situation that the cellular industry is in no apparent hurry to change.”
Basic call costs vary between 75c/minute and R2,80/minute, while data costs range between 3c/MB and R2/MB, depending on the package and the operator.
Telecoms specialist Saicom is a significant shareholder in Tariffic. Its CEO, Howard Sackstein, tells TechCentral that the level of complexity in South Africa’s mobile industry is “obscene”.
“When we started analysing all the packages in the market, there were close to 10 000 options consumers have to choose from, and that’s excluding handsets and special deals and additional packages that are not actively sold by the networks,” he says. “If you factor that in, it’s close to 40 000 options. It’s impossible for consumers to work out which package they should be on.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media