South Africa: Under pressure, Vodacom starts cutting out-of-bundle rates

South Africa: Under pressure, Vodacom starts cutting out-of-bundle rates

Under pressure from consumers, lobby groups and politicians, Vodacom has finally moved to begin addressing high out-of-bundle data charges, announcing on Tuesday that it will reduce the rates by as much as 50%.

Vodacom — and some other operators — have come under increasing scrutiny over out-of-bundle data charges, which analysts say unfairly penalise end users, especially the poor.

The operator said it will reduce the prices “significantly” for all customers from mid-October. What’s not known yet is whether the cuts will be sufficient to appease consumers, activists and others agitating for lower prices.

Vodacom has long argued it needs to charge higher rates for out-of-bundle data usage to encourage consumers to move to bundles.“For prepaid users and customers on top-up packages, the out-of-bundle rate will drop by as much as 50% once the new 99c/MB tariff comes into effect on 15 October. The out-of-bundle rate for post-paid customers was reduced from R1/MB to 89c/MB on 1 October.”

“Over the last few years, we’ve significantly brought down the cost of voice tariffs and moved customers to more affordable plans. We undertook to reduce out-of-bundle rates, and we’ve now delivered on that, too,” the company said in a press release.

4G expansion

It said it must still invest big money in its network, including expanding 4G/LTE coverage to more areas and to keep pace with growing demand for data.

“Both of these come at a cost, and we have invested some R32.7bn over the past four years. However, lack of access to spectrum is hampering our ability to drive down infrastructure costs and in turn, enable us to pass savings to the consumer,” said CEO Shameel Joosub in the press release.

Vodacom said it has become more active in alerting customers when they are running low on data and when they have run out of data, and has also been offering personalised offers to entice customers to top up.

Source: NewsCentral Media (Via Tech Central)