Vodacom has become the first operator to respond to the aggressive new “FreeMe” tariff plans from Telkom. But the country’s biggest operator is not exactly shouting about its new “+ (Plus)” plans from the rooftops.
According to Tariffic, the company that helps businesses and consumers reduce their mobile spend, Vodacom has quietly introduced the new offering, which adds data to its existing Smart, Smart Top Up and Red packages — for a price — as a response to the FreeMe deals.
Telkom launched its data-led FreeMe packages three weeks ago, offering consumers large data bundles at the high end bundled with free minutes, free SMSes, zero-rated social media and other benefits.
MTN South Africa CEO Mteto Nyati said this week that MTN would not respond to Telkom’s new plans, but it appears Vodacom is more concerned, according to Tariffic.
“Telkom paved the way with its data-centric FreeMe packages, answering consumers cries for more data and less voice minutes with their contracts,” Tariffic said in a statement.
“It seems that Vodacom thinks this is a good idea, and has adjusted its current packages to cater to this high-data world,” it said (see table below).
“Vodacom, however, isn’t willing to compromise on the voice component just yet, and is still offering the same voice minutes as it previously had,” Tariffic added.
“You’ll also notice that you pay extra for this extra data, and although you’ll get this data at a good price, it still doesn’t compare to Telkom’s new packages for data-hungry users.”
The prices Vodacom customers will pay for the extra data work out cheaper compared to the cost of adding a separate data bundle to their existing contract. However, this (the cost saving) only becomes significant with the more expensive Red packages, where consumers land up only paying R100 more for an extra 1GB, 2GB or 5GB, depending on whether they’re on a Classic+ (equivalent to Red Advantage), Premium+ or VIP+ package, Tariffic noted.
“It is surprising to see that Vodacom is the first to react to Telkom’s new data-centric FreeMe package,” said Tariffic CEO Antony Seeff. “Vodacom has a reputation of staying the course when it comes to its offerings and pricing, while rather trying to lure customers based on its network coverage.
“Vodacom’s new Plus packages prove it isn’t oblivious to the turning of the tide when it comes to how cellular consumers are using their phones, and it seems these new packages are an attempt by Vodacom to try to dip its toe into these new waters,” Seeff said.
However, according to Tariffic’s cellphone industry analysis, Vodacom’s new Plus packages are not competitive, from a price perspective, with some of the other offerings available on the market. But the contracts will still be compelling to current or potential Vodacom customers who use a fair amount of cellular data every month, it said.
There is a catch, too. The new Smart+ and Red+ price plans are available on a promotional basis only until 31 January 2017. “But,” said Seeff, “these things have a habit of being extended — permanently.”
He said it is “interesting” that Vodacom hasn’t made a marketing fuss about the new tariff plans. “Is it just running behind schedule, or is it concerned with being perceived to be following in Telkom’s footsteps?” — © 2016 NewsCentral Media