Mobile service provider MTN will slash its 30-day data prices by a third from April 15.
The announcement was made by CEO Godfrey Motsa during a media briefing in Johannesburg earlier on Friday.
“The one gigabyte that you were buying for R149 is now going to drop to R99. We will provide 20 megabytes (MB) free. For entities, we’ll zero-rate up to 500 unique sites and provide 500MB data valid for the whole month,” he said.
Motsa added that MTN customers will enjoy 20MB free data through the Ayoba data lifeline effective immediately, adding that the reductions will be extended to various entities.
“We have introduced categories so that we don’t zero-rate one sector of the economy. These categories include health, technical and vocational education and training colleges, high school educational content, employment contracts and public universities.
“For entities, we’ll zero-rate up to 500 sites – 500MB data valid for the whole month,” he said.
Motsa said that the network might see a dip in revenue, but will eventually recover.
“In the last 12 months we had to deal with the out-of-bundle [ruling]. In the short-term, we will see some reduction. But once you drop the prices, you increase demand and recover money,” he said.
Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams welcomed the move.
“Our mandate is to make sure that those we serve have access to services all the time. But we also want to balance things and not kill the business sector,” she said.
“We need data, but the price must fall,” she said.
The MTN announcement comes after recommendations made by the Competition Commission, which in its Data Services Market Inquiry last year, found that mobile prepaid data South Africa was more expensive than in other countries.
The commission also found that “poorer, low volume customers face higher per megabyte prices than richer, high-volume consumers on a like-for-like basis”.
MTN and Vodacom, were given two months to reduce their data prices by between 30% and 50%.
Earlier this month, Vodacom announced that it had reached an agreement with the commission to cut prices by 30% from April 1.
Motsa said MTN had an agreement with the commission on the reductions and “will provide greater transparency so that people can see what they spend their money on, and which are the most affordable bundles to buy”.
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