Vodacom slashes prepaid call rates

South Africa’s largest mobile operator is chopping prepaid call rates, barely a week after Cell C stepped up the price war with its bigger rival. By Duncan McLeod.

Shameel Joosub

Shameel Joosub

Vodacom has just thrown down the gauntlet to its competitors, signalling that it won’t take attempts by rivals to take away market share lying down.

The mobile operator, South Africa’s largest, has announced it will take an axe to the cost of voice calls: from 10 February — this Sunday — it will cut prepaid rates to R1,20/minute to all networks. The calls will be charged for on a per-minute rather than a per-second basis.

In addition, on-network calls between Vodacom subscribers will be charged for the first three minutes only at the R1,20/minute rate, after which the rest of the hour will be free. The new price plan is called Vodacom Daily Free Calls.

Vodacom’s aggressive move comes just a week after smaller rival Cell C — headed by former Vodacom boss Alan Knott-Craig — moved to offer prepaid customers free value for recharging.

Cell C customers who recharge with R100 of airtime, for example, are offered 150 free Cell C to Cell C minutes, 150 on-network SMSes and 150MB of data for use within seven days. The operator is even offering unlimited free on-network calls for 30 days for those who recharge with R500 or more.

Vodacom’s new plans are part of what it’s calling “Free4Sho”, a product portfolio that offers “guaranteed free benefits to customers”. It hinted at the new products in newspaper advertisements at the weekend.

The new plans are not promotional in nature, meaning they have been filed with the Independent Communications Authority of SA, and any future changes to these rates will require regulatory approval.

“Customers will pay as little as 6c/minute, and this not a promotional offer, it’s a brand new prepaid price plan suitable for customers who make longer calls,” says group CEO Shameel Joosub.

For on-network calls, if a call exceeds an hour, the first 3 minutes of the second hour is billed at R1,20/minute and the rest of the second hour is free.

Prepaid customers who want to sign up for the new plans must dial 1181 or dial *111#, select FreeChange and follow the prompts.  — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media

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