Mobile broadband pricing in South Africa: cheap or expensive?


We compare how South Africa’s mobile broadband prices stack up against international rates

South Africa’s three largest mobile operators have all launched 2GB mobile broadband promotions priced at R149 per month.

These promotions are priced at less than half of Vodacom, MTN and Cell C's standard 2GB data bundle pricing, begging the question why these lower prices are not feasible on standard data packages.

Most of the local mobile operators explained that these promotional prices are well below cost, which makes them unsustainable in the long run. At the recent IIR Broadband Summit held in Sandton, Vodacom and 8ta indicated that a price below 10c per MB is simply not sustainable.

Not all consumers are convinced, arguing that the cellular operators should reduce data prices to levels only seen with Cell C’s broadband promotions.

But is South Africa really out of sync with the rest of the world when it comes to mobile broadband pricing?

The best way to establish whether South Africans are getting a good deal is to look at international pricing benchmarks, and the table below gives an overview of comparable prices for data bundles between 1GB and 2GB. Both developed and developing countries were selected in this comparison. The prices below are indicated in Rands.


It is clear that South Africa compares favorably with its international counterparts when looking at the current promotional offers, but can be considered expensive when using standard data prices.

An interesting trend which emerged is that there is not a big difference in pricing between the developed and developing world when it comes to mobile broadband.

With fixed broadband there is typically a significant difference in both speed and pricing when comparing first world and third world prices, but developing countries often have better mobile data prices than their developed counterparts.