27 Jul South Africa: Cell C fires salvo at MTN after rival hikes WhatsApp prices
Cell C appears to be stepping up to try to take market share from rival MTN by appealing to consumers hungry for cheap access to social media platforms.
Just 10 days after MTN South Africa said it had been “forced” to hike the price of its low-cost 1GB data bundle from R10 to R30 because of the impact on its 3G network, Cell C has introduced a similar product — but offering 1.2GB of data — for R17, and it has thrown access to Facebook into the deal, too.
On 16 August, MTN said it would hike the cost of its popular 1GB WhatsApp bundle, which was introduced in April, by 200% to try to mitigate the impact on its network.
MTN said the price increase had become necessary because of the strain the deal had put on the company’s network. The new pricing is R30 per 1GB WhatsApp bundle, though selected users would continue to enjoy the R10 deal. The most vulnerable South Africans — those spending less than R10 on WhatsApp per month — would be protected from the change in pricing, it said.
Now Cell C appears to be trying to soak up the demand from consumers, introducing three new “ShoutOut” bundles that give users access to Facebook and WhatsApp at aggressive price points.
For R4, they get 80MB of data for use with both WhatsApp and Facebook for 24 hours, while R17 gets 1.2GB for 30 days and R49 gets 4GB, also for 30 days. The bundles are promotional, begin on 30 July and will expire at the end of September, unless Cell C extends them beyond that date.
By launching the bundles on a promotional basis, Cell C will also be able to amend or withdraw them if, like MTN, they have a negative impact on its network.
MTN said it was investing a further R200-million in its 3G network infrastructure to accommodate the “huge spike in traffic being driven by demand for WhatsApp”. It said it had to make what it called a “difficult decision” to hike the price to “protect the quality of our 3G network”.