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Vodacom cuts data bundle prices

Data is falling. Pic Dikgari Ramothata

Vodacom will cut its data bundles prices by more than 30% across all of its channels as of 1 April 2020.

“Vodacom has agreed to a multi-year substantial reduction of monthly data bundles across the board. For example, the key 1GB monthly data bundle will drop from R149 per 1 Gigabyte to no more that R99 (including Vat). This represents a 34% price decrease,” said Competition Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele.

Bonakele, together with Minister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel and Vodacom group CEO Shameel Joosub, held a media briefing in Tshwane on Tuesday, to announce Vodacom’s settlement agreement on data prices.

“Customers that buy the lowest volumes of data, which are typically the poorest customers, will see the greatest benefit of these price decreases,” the Commissioner said.

Vodacom’s decision follows the Competition Commission’s market inquiry report into mobile data services, which found that South Africa’s data prices are excessively high.

Joosub said Vodacom South Africa will introduce a range of initiatives that will result in R2.7 billion in additional savings for customers.

“Having heard the concerns raised by the Competition Commission, we proactively entered into a Social Contract with government and the public. We did this at a time when South African consumers are under increasing financial pressure and on the understanding that action will be taken by Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) and government to auction high demand spectrum,” adds Joosub.

From the 1 April, Vodacom will, except for the zero-rated government websites, make available all of its current zero-rated services on one platform, with increased focus on consumers in poorer communities through “ConnectU.”

The ConnectU will address seven key areas, namely education; internet search; jobs, social and essential internet access; health and wellness as well as safety and security.

The benefits of the ConnectU are as follows:

  • Vodacom will expand their current zero rating offering to all public universities, Technical and Vocational Educational Training (TVET) colleges as well as all public schools across the country. These educational institutions will be able to apply to get their portals zero-rated through a clear and transparent process.
  • Vodacom will provide a full zero-rated Internet search function powered by Wikipedia, which will enable customers to search for any topic online.
  • Vodacom will allow customers to view and apply for job opportunities as advertised on seven zero-rated South African job portals.
  • Vodacom has undertaken to provide customers with free access to Facebook Flex.
  • Vodacom will expand its health information portal from the current Mum & Baby offering to provide holistic health information across all life-stages in the third quarter of 2020.
  • Vodacom will assist with the protection of families through measures such as Secure Net Parental Control, a protective measure to shield children from exposure to illegal and inappropriate adult content.

Pro-poor personalized discounting and free communication

Bonakele said Vodacom will extend current zero-rating to essential state and emergency specified sites.

“These will enable citizens to access emergency services and allow citizens to access crucial government information and services. The list extends to more than 26 and includes sites of the Department of Health, Education and Home Affairs.

“This Vodacom undertaking will be phased in within two months from 01 April to allow time for the necessary technical testing and implementation,” he said.

In addition, the mobile operator will extend personalised discounts to prepaid customers in all suburbs and villages where most of the population have income levels below the upper bound food poverty line.

This will cover more than 2 000 localities as defined in the agreement.

“Vodacom shall extend two free SMSs daily to all prepaid customers who had at least one revenue generating activity in the preceding 30-day period. Vodacom shall launch ConnectU platform officially with the necessary marketing campaigns to drive awareness and education,” Bonakele said.

The Minister has welcomed the settlement agreement with Vodacom on data prices.

“The actual reduction in prices and the zero-rating of particular websites are critical means of enabling greater levels of developing a society. Today so much of the national conversation is conducted through electronic means, so many consumers derive information, facts, opinions of which we base our choices from on the information which we obtain through digital means.

“That a website like Wikipedia is now available to all South Africans to use as a means of obtaining information helps to increase the foundations of our democracy, which is an informed citizenship,” Patel said. –

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