Price war erupts among South Africa’s mobile players

A price war has erupted among South Africa’s mobile operators, as each seeks to increase its slice of the pie in a country where there are nearly as many active SIM cards as there are people.

The country’s third mobile operator Cell C recently slashed its data prices, halving them in some cases. It’s followed up this move with a new voice deal for its prepaid customers.

South Africa’s first-and-largest operator Vodacom today responded with what it calls the “Freedom 99” plan.

Like Cell C’s plan, called “99 Cents For Real”, Vodacom will charge prepaid users 99c a minute for calls between any of the country’s mobile networks

The key difference is that Cell C’s plan is based on per-second-billing from the moment the call is made, while Vodacom charges for the first minute and every half-minute thereafter.

Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig reckons the new deal gives his company’s “prepaid customers the best rate in the market, making it — in most cases — even cheaper to call from Cell C to other networks than it is for our competitors’ own prepaid customers to make on-net calls.”

The two companies have engaged in battle before, in the advertising and social media realms.

What makes this particular battle interesting is that the recently appointed Knott-Craig formerly had the head job at Vodacom.



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