Vodacom takes aim at Telkom’s FreeMe

Vodacom has become the first operator to respond to Telkom's aggressive new “FreeMe” tariff plans. But the country’s biggest operator is not exactly shouting about its new plans from the rooftops.

Antony Seeff

Antony Seeff

Vodacom has become the first operator to respond to the aggressive new “FreeMe” tariff plans from Telkom. But the country’s biggest operator is not exactly shouting about its new “+ (Plus)” plans from the rooftops.

According to Tariffic, the company that helps businesses and consumers reduce their mobile spend, Vodacom has quietly introduced the new offering, which adds data to its existing Smart, Smart Top Up and Red packages — for a price — as a response to the FreeMe deals.

Telkom launched its data-led FreeMe packages three weeks ago, offering consumers large data bundles at the high end bundled with free minutes, free SMSes, zero-rated social media and other benefits.

MTN South Africa CEO Mteto Nyati said this week that MTN would not respond to Telkom’s new plans, but it appears Vodacom is more concerned, according to Tariffic.

“Telkom paved the way with its data-centric FreeMe packages, answering consumers cries for more data and less voice minutes with their contracts,” Tariffic said in a statement.

“It seems that Vodacom thinks this is a good idea, and has adjusted its current packages to cater to this high-data world,” it said (see table below).

“Vodacom, however, isn’t willing to compromise on the voice component just yet, and is still offering the same voice minutes as it previously had,” Tariffic added.

“You’ll also notice that you pay extra for this extra data, and although you’ll get this data at a good price, it still doesn’t compare to Telkom’s new packages for data-hungry users.”

Vodacom's new Plus packages. Source: Tariffic

Vodacom’s new Plus packages. Source: Tariffic

The prices Vodacom customers will pay for the extra data work out cheaper compared to the cost of adding a separate data bundle to their existing contract. However, this (the cost saving) only becomes significant with the more expensive Red packages, where consumers land up only paying R100 more for an extra 1GB, 2GB or 5GB, depending on whether they’re on a Classic+ (equivalent to Red Advantage), Premium+ or VIP+ package, Tariffic noted.

“It is surprising to see that Vodacom is the first to react to Telkom’s new data-centric FreeMe package,” said Tariffic CEO Antony Seeff. “Vodacom has a reputation of staying the course when it comes to its offerings and pricing, while rather trying to lure customers based on its network coverage.

“Vodacom’s new Plus packages prove it isn’t oblivious to the turning of the tide when it comes to how cellular consumers are using their phones, and it seems these new packages are an attempt by Vodacom to try to dip its toe into these new waters,” Seeff said.

However, according to Tariffic’s cellphone industry analysis, Vodacom’s new Plus packages are not competitive, from a price perspective, with some of the other offerings available on the market. But the contracts will still be compelling to current or potential Vodacom customers who use a fair amount of cellular data every month, it said.

There is a catch, too. The new Smart+ and Red+ price plans are available on a promotional basis only until 31 January 2017. “But,” said Seeff, “these things have a habit of being extended — permanently.”

He said it is “interesting” that Vodacom hasn’t made a marketing fuss about the new tariff plans. “Is it just running behind schedule, or is it concerned with being perceived to be following in Telkom’s footsteps?” — © 2016 NewsCentral Media

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  • Daryn Varney

    WOW, so from a Smart S to get an additional 1GB at an “affordable” rate I need to change to the package that costs over R1000 pm? Or jsut get 1GB for R99 rand a month on FreeMe, well no wonder they not shouting it from the rooftops. It’s like syaing that if I want the Automatic Golf TSI I HAVE TO buy the GTi variant, all that extra money just makes no sense. Maybe they need to return to the drawing board? We don’t want to be bullied into taking deals to get the benefits. I am already looking at the FreeMe switch.

  • gp

    The freeme bundles areally also available on prepaid not just on contract. Purchased a freeme bundle for my sons phone for R99. Has 1gb of ordinary data, 500mb of social media data. 300 anytime minutes (per second billing) and 100 sms”s. Also has 10gb (ten) Telkom WiFi hotpot data. As far as value is concerned it is a no brainer. Yes data is for 31 days and what is not used is lost. But again no surprise data/voice bills at month end. It will be worth checking it out. Port your existing number to Telkom. Those on Telkom dial *180# and follow the freeme bundle purchase options. (No I don’t nor do any of my family work for Telkom)

  • Andre Stols

    When Vodacom took over Autopage, my account remained at R 900,00 per month on my 500 free minutes account, but then after a few months, all of a sudden changed and up went my bill to average R 1350,00 per month for same coverage- I have been with them for more that 10 years and WILL change to Cell C at my renewal next month. Vodacom thinks they have the monopoly, but clients that had the same experience as me, MUST shop around.

  • Ryan

    Took aim and fired way above target………….

  • Ofentse Letsholo

    If they don’t say anything about it they don’t feel it. Telkom is still the ONLY option.