If Vodacom makes the new 79c rate permanent — by filing the tariff with communications regulator Icasa — it will leave Cell C, which once had the lowest call rate in the market at 99c/minute on per-second billing, with the most expensive prepaid offering. Telkom Mobile has the cheapest rate of 75c/minute (29c on-network).
The cuts by MTN and Vodacom follow a high court judgment last month that cut call termination rates for large operators to 20c/minute (from 40c previously) for a six-month period while Icasa draws up new regulations governing what operators may charge each other to carry calls between their networks. Cell C, which enjoys “asymmetry” in the rates, has so far failed to match retail price cuts by its bigger rivals.
In a note published on Vodacom’s website on Thursday, the operator, the country’s largest, said it had cut its prepaid prices to 79c with immediate effect. The new rates would be in force for two-and-a-half months. They apply to calls to all networks.
It’s not clear if Vodacom intends making the new rate permanent. Rival MTN has lodged its 79c rate with Icasa, making it permanent.
Users have to elect to switch to Vodacom’s 79c plan to benefit — through the 1181 interactive voice response system, by dialling the *111# USSD code from their phones, or by visiting the company’s website.
Customers on legacy price plans, including 4U, All Day Per Second, All Day Per Minute, Per Second Plus, Day Saver and Vodago who change to the new plan will not be able to return to their previous plan, Vodacom warned. Popular services like “Night Shift” and “Power Hour” are not available on the 79c plan, it said. Any benefits accrued using other services will be forfeited when switching.
The price plan is not available to contract and top-up users. Vodacom warned least-cost routing companies not to use the price plan to route calls.
Those switching to the 79c plan will pay 50c to send an SMS (90c to Telkom phones) and 80c for MMSes. International SMSes are R1,74 each. — (c) 2014 NewsCentral Media