South Africa is now ranked 136th worldwide for its mobile data pricing this year in a study based on the cost of 1 gigabyte (1GB) of mobile data as South African regulators try to clamp down the high costs. Photographer: Lalinka Mahote/ African News Agency (ANA)
South Africa is now ranked 136th worldwide for its mobile data pricing this year in a study based on the cost of 1 gigabyte (1GB) of mobile data as South African regulators try to clamp down the high costs. Photographer: Lalinka Mahote/ African News Agency (ANA)

SA ranks 136 worldwide for the cost of mobile data

By Given Majola Time of article published Apr 11, 2021

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DURBAN - SOUTH Africa is now ranked 136th worldwide for its mobile data pricing this year in a study based on the cost of 1 gigabyte (1GB) of mobile data as South African regulators try to clamp down the high costs.

The data from 6 148 mobile data plans in 230 countries were gathered and analysed by Cable.co.uk between December, 8, 2020 and February, 25, 2021

South Africa’s data costs an average of $2.67 (R38.93) for 1GB of data from a sample of 60 plans measured on February, 25. The study found the cheapest data cost $0.12, while the most expensive was $34.95.

Data prices are keenly looked at by South African consumers after the Competition Commission found South Africa’s major mobile providers, Vodacom, Telkom, MTN, and Cell C, were charging too much for mobile prices. The providers have spent the last year adjusting their data offerings to complying with the organisation’s ruling.

The data showed that Israel was home to the cheapest mobile data plans in the world, with 1GB of data costing an average of just $0.05.

The most expensive place in the world to buy mobile data is Equatorial Guinea, where the average cost of 1GB was $49.67, nearly a thousand times the cost of mobile data in Israel.

Kyrgyzstan was a close second to Israel with 1GB costing $0.15 on average followed by Fiji ($0.19) in third place.

Sub-saharan Africa had six out of the ten most expensive countries in the world, with Equatorial Guinea the most expensive in the world ($49.67), followed by Saint Helena ($39.87), São

Tomé and Príncipe ($30.97), Malawi ($25.46) and Chad ($23.33) at the bottom of the table.

Commenting on the worldwide rankings, Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk, said: “Many of the cheapest countries in which to buy mobile data fall roughly into one of two categories.

Some have excellent mobile and fixed broadband infrastructure and so providers are able to offer large amounts of data, which brings down the price per gigabyte. Others with less advanced broadband networks are heavily reliant on mobile data and the economy dictates that prices must be low, as that’s what people can afford.

“At the more expensive end of the list, we have countries where often the infrastructure isn’t great but also where consumption is very small.

People are often buying data packages of just a tens of megabytes at a time, making a gigabyte a relatively large and therefore expensive amount of data to buy.

Many countries in the middle of the list have good infrastructure and competitive mobile markets, and while their prices aren’t among the cheapest in the world they wouldn’t necessarily be considered expensive by its consumers.”

In South Africa data prices have become more competitive.

Vodacom last week dropped its data rates further to drive digital inclusion. Vodacom said that it reduced pricing on certain 30-day data bundles by up to 14 percent as part of its ongoing commitment to reduce the cost to communicate and connect more people to the digital economy.

It said this would promote digital inclusion and assist their 43 million customers in making savings at a time when they needed them more.

Cell C said its introduction of the prepaid LTE Home Connecta was aligned to the communications company’s new operating model, which aimed to deliver a broad range of competitively priced, digital lifestyle offers to South African customers in the prevailing tough economic environment.

Cell C chief commercial officer Simo Mkhize said that the prevailing tough economic times brought many challenges to communities and Cell C believed that everyone deserves to be able to change their world through affordable internet access.

“Affordable data bridges the digital divide and enables access to all players in society,” said Mkhize.

Cell C introduced its new prepaid LTE connectivity offer, the Home Connecta Flexi effective from the end of last month. Mkhize said that this prepaid Wi-fi product gave customers fast, instant and reliable connectivity, without the commitment of a contract.

Last week Telkom-sa also launched a new tariff plan named Thola More. The new prepaid plan would replace the company’s voice-focused offering SIM Sonke, effective April 1 to include data and extra SMS and calling benefits upon recharging.

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