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In April 2018, MTN launched its new social media bundles aimed specifically at WhatsApp users. Those purchasing the network’s WhatsApp Bundle would be charged R10 for 1GB on the service.
But this is about to change for some. According to a statement issued by the company on Monday, MTN will increase the price of the bundle to R30.
The reason? To protect its 3G network quality.
“Social media usage remains a dynamic and ever-changing environment. Our commitment remains to continue driving down the cost of data with a strong focus on alleviating pressure on the most vulnerable in our society,” explains Mapula Bodibe, MTN’s executive of consumer business.
However, to protect the quality of our 3G network for all South Africans, we are having to make this difficult decision.”
There is a catch.
For “the most vulnerable South Africans that are currently spending less than R10 on WhatsApp per month, will be protected from the change in pricing and will still have access to this low-cost WhatsApp bundles,” the company adds.
Bodibe continues that if you use a feature phone through the company’s 3G network, you’ll still be charged R10 for the bundle.
“Spend on these 3G handsets in rural areas, tends to be on the much lower end and we want to continue to offer affordable data access through WhatsApp bundles to this group of South Africans, who need to communicate but whom can least afford it,” Bodibe adds.
In a later request for clarification, MTN explained to Memeburn what it determines as a “feature phone”.
“These are 3G devices that don’t make provision for the LTE technology,” the statement began.
“The R10 WhatsApp bundle for 1Gig a month for customers using feature phones on our 3G network is a continuation of our strategy of ensuring that everyone reaps the benefits of the modern connected world.
“Through our Customer Value Management systems, we are able to identify customers using feature phones on 3G network.”
Free Twitter service set to continue
It also pledged to continue its Free Twitter service, which allows users access to the micro-blogging platform for free. Well, at least the first 500MB per day for free.
“We want to keep bringing our customers closer to news, current affairs, family, friends and topical interests and MTN’s Free Twitter service helps make that happen,” Bodibe concludes.
The price change to the WhatsApp Bundle will come into effect from 16 July 2018.
Feature image: MTN
Updated, 17 July: Added clarification from MTN regarding its methodology for determining feature phones.