SA 4G to push up costs - expert

2012-10-23 07:29

Cape Town - An industry expert has urged mobile operators to reduce the out of bundle cost of data as higher speed networks are likely to increase costs for consumers.

Both Vodacom and MTN have announced higher speed data networks, but have kept the cost of out of bundle data rates consistent.

"What the networks are doing - hats off to them - is trying to get things faster and get the latest technologies. But what they're doing is just getting a faster Ferrari for the very few that can afford it," Prezence Digital chief technology officer Tim Bishop told News24.

The speed of the networks is up to four times faster than the fastest 3G speed, though it is not fourth generation by the strict definition of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

"'4G': You've got to use that word carefully because what they've rolled out isn't strictly 4G. Strictly speaking, it's not [4G], it needs to be about 10 times faster than what it currently is to be 4G by the definition," Bishop said.

Data rates

Vodacom's high-speed offering is pegged at around 40mbps, but still some way short of the 100mbps as required by the ITU to be defined as 4G.

Bishop conceded that the network speed was much faster than what South Africans were used to and speculated that it was part of the country's journey to Long Term Evolution (LTE).

"LTE is sort of a journey up to 4G I guess, but let's face it - it's still damn fast right?"

Cost has emerged as a significant factor and with faster networks, mobile devices will likely consume data at higher rates than before.

A cursory News24 examination found that an Android device with the default settings in place consumed between 800MB and 1GB of data per month.

"I did a couple of calculations. I think I tweeted: 'Gone in 40 seconds, the new movie by Vodacom, regarding your 500MB iPhone 5 data plan,' because that's how long 500MB would take to disappear via LTE - 40 seconds," Bishop said.

This equates to users spending around R25 a second, and up to R90 000 per hour in out of bundle data costs if the consumption remains constant.

"All this speed is lovely, but the cost is what's killing it," Bishop added.

At its results meeting, Vodacom said that data demand was strong in SA and customers in the country grew to 29 million, an increase of 27%.


"The demand remains strong; there's strong competition in the SA market. Data revenue is up 24% year-on-year. The active data customers [are] up 35%: Now just over 12 million [and] all of the 12 million are buying data bundles on a monthly basis," said outgoing CEO Pieter Uys.

Bishop said that as data made up a higher percentage of networks' revenue, they would continue to drive higher speed data

"Obviously the networks are focusing on the smart users because they're the big data consumers at the moment, but they're the data consumers at the moment because they can bloody well afford it," said Bishop.

He said that mobile operators should focus on lower end networks to get more people using data so that costs can be reduced.

"Really, how it should work is that is when things become faster and more ubiquitous, prices should correlate to that."

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  • jaun.lombard.9 - 2012-10-23 07:38

    Cell C said they would offer LTE priced 15c per meg!

      tamlin.vanheerver - 2012-10-23 07:59

      8ta is still cheaper by a mile

      klippies.coke.7 - 2012-10-23 09:56

      @Tamlin .. their out of bundle rate is also R1 per Mb. Cellc remains at R0.15 per Mb.

      123456rb - 2012-10-23 10:15

      8ta sells 2gig+1gig for R149. You can also buy Vodacom's Promotion on their webpage: 24gigs or 12x2gig over 12 months by paying R1500. This works out to R125 per 2gig for each month. It is under the promotion banner and not under the normal out of bundle data heading.

  • adrian.tyler - 2012-10-23 08:35

    I'm a big fan of Cell C when it comes to data. R75 for 500MB. How much do the others charge?

      profkaygee - 2012-10-23 09:03

      Try 3GB for twice that amount.

      vandeventer.sarel - 2012-10-23 09:17

      Were do u get 3gb for 150? Vodacom charges me 289 a gig

      hamish.drake1 - 2012-10-23 09:28

      Best option on Cell C is R400 for 3 Gigs on prepaid. Anyone know of a cheaper option at the same or better speed?

      anakin.skyvader.9 - 2012-10-23 09:42

      Do yourself a favour and switch to 8ta. Cell-C sells broadband to 8ta on their '655 NC' faster (better penetrating) network in any case, Cell-C and 8ta are considering a merger anyway. I've been on 8ta since Jan'2012 and for the 2GB+1GB promotion it's R146. Go to a Telkom branch outlet and get a 8ta sim, just check your area for coverage on 8ta website, no need to pay R75 for only 500MB unless you are on a contract or have a 'locked' USB-modem stick (let Telkom check your modem for you - not Cell-C).

      123456rb - 2012-10-23 10:14

      8ta sells 2gig+1gig for R149. You can also buy Vodacom's Promotion on their webpage: 24gigs or 12x2gig over 12 months by paying R1500. This works out to R125 per 2gig for each month. It is under the promotion banner and not under the normal out of bundle data heading.

      pinky.kgole - 2012-10-23 14:12

      you can always Go-Big and pay R199 for 10Gigs per month with 8ta

  • alexander.lombard - 2012-10-23 08:48

    This guys figures are bust. If Vodacom can load 500mb in 40 sec it will be much faster than 4 times its current speed. I think they were ment to tell him there is a difference between bits kilobits and mega bytes. Telkom is regreatably still the fastest offering to us normal people and it's fastest offering is 10MB/s. If Vodacom downoads 1MB in 10 seconds with this new thecnology they would have overcome their own expectations. DUDE LEAVE IT TO THE PRO's

  • justice.league.9469 - 2012-10-23 09:20

    The telecom industry uses megabit per second to fool customers to think they are receiving megabyte per second: quick sum: 1mbps= 128kb/sec*40(peak)=5.12megabyte/sec so 500mb will take approx 1m37secs, given all conditions are ideal. Still faster than most connections though but hardly 40secs

      alexander.lombard - 2012-10-23 09:37

      In the event I am at vodaworld I'll be lucky to get 40kbs. 4 times this is nowhere close to what is claimed in this article. I'll give Vodacom 20 to 30 minutes

      rob.gunning.1 - 2012-10-23 09:40

      LOL!!! No, Megabit and Megabyte terminology only fools a fool. They are different words.

      rob.gunning.1 - 2012-10-23 09:44

      @Justice - You should learn the difference between bit and byte... They are different. You are the fool

      justice.league.9469 - 2012-10-23 10:18

      @Rob Think i made it clear in my post there is a difference between bit and byte: The still use megabit to sell their products

      marc.moon.10 - 2012-12-20 12:29

      @new_south_african_glory... if you're unhappy with your current network, port out... tell them the situation you find yourself in and get out... then port into another network, based on the data prices and reliability of their data i picked cell c and could not be happier...

  • parys.fotograaf - 2012-10-23 09:22

    The aim should be to be like South Korea, where all internet is high speed...AND free for everyone. The and then only will true internet penetration be achieved. Advertising and some state assistance is used there to accomplish this goal.

  • anakin.skyvader.9 - 2012-10-23 09:30

    I'm stuck with 8ta on their 2GB+1GB (R150) data-bundle until they offer '4G' as a data-bundle promotion. I can't afford Vodacom's bundles, let alone 'out-of-bundle' data prices. They will have to build it into promotional data-bundles somehow, will just have to wait. ADSL also not an option for me due to extremely high lightning risks on Telkom copper lines (Randburg).

      fanie.gerber1972 - 2012-10-23 11:50

      8ta internet 5 10gb for 200 or 10 + 10 for 300

  • rob.gunning.1 - 2012-10-23 09:37


  • shaunpatrickdaly - 2012-10-23 10:31

    We won't have true 4G or high speed internet until the telcoms install a 21st century infrastructure aka fiber optic cable.

  • ben.pretorius.33 - 2012-10-23 10:45

    I get 10gig at R199-00 from 8ta!

  • izak.vanaswegen - 2012-10-23 10:54

    I Love MTN'S 2 Gig for only R189.00 pm and it is fast

  • LanfearM - 2012-10-23 11:13

    Our connection fees, via cell or via ADSL, are ridiculously high, and slow in comparison to Europe, the US and Asia. We have one of the top 10 highgest internet rates in the world. Just like our cell rates are one of the top 10 highest in the world. And they want our people to embrace technology. How can they when half the population cannot come near to affording it?!

  • quwyn.dray - 2012-10-23 11:17

    What is AT&T then?

      Richard - 2012-10-23 13:59

      American telephone & telegraph, A service provider in the states. Fixed and cell and the rest.

  • Jacques van Heerden - 2012-10-29 23:14

    i hope it gets here since it would really help with cloud computing, as well as help smart phones be better especially for blackberry and iphone!

  • marc.moon.10 - 2012-12-20 12:04

    cell c charges 15c per meg, flat rate... half price of most other networks... it might not be 4g lte or whatever, but its pretty fast... i must say it seems faster than the other network who i wont mention... and voice is great too. i used skype on 3g while driving usisng a blutooth handsfree kit ... worked beautifully...

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