MTN to reduce data prices by between 25-50% from mid-April

Image credit: Flickr/warrenski

MTN SA, the country’s second-largest mobile operator, has announced a reduction in its monthly prepaid data bundles prices by between 25-50% as from 15 April, 2020.

At a briefing in Johannesburg on Friday, MTN SA CEO Godfrey Motsa said the cost of the 1GB monthly bundle will decrease by 33% from R149 to R99.

He said, “The R99 is the maximum we are going to charge per GB. There will still be some prices lower than that, but that’s like our ceiling.”

Lifeline data, zero-rated data access

With regard to lifeline data, MTN will offer each customer 20MB of free data daily, or the equivalent of 600MB per month, through its instant messaging platform, Ayoba, which currently has 500,000 customers.

The company currently provides zero-rated data access to certain websites that are of “public service benefit,” such as websites of schools and universities.

MTN said as from April, it will expand the number of these websites “to also include health, public universities, vocational colleges, educational resources as well as employment sites.”

“MTN SA will offer a monthly 500MB free data access to public benefit services websites every month, amounting to 6GBs per year, for each of MTN SA’s 29 million customers,” the company said.

Competition Commission

MTN’s decision follows Vodacom’s announcement earlier this month that it would also reduce data prices by at least 30% as from April.

The two companies, which control about 70% of South Africa’s mobile industry, have been under pressure to cut data prices.

After a two-year investigation, the Competition Commission released a report in December 2019 that said mobile data prices in South Africa are too high and reflect “a bias against the poor.”

Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said at the time, “We think there is scope to reduce these prices in the region of 30-50%. We have decided we will give the industry two months to act on these recommendations, failing which we will consider a prosecution for excessive pricing.”

Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who attended MTN’s briefing on Friday, welcomed the operator’s announcement.

“As the policy maker, we are happy. It’s a long journey that requires all of us to hold each other by hand,” she said.

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