MTN issues warning over 'bill shock'

MTN. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
MTN. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Johannesburg - Cellphone 'bill shocks' and depleting data bundles can be blamed on the transition from a feature phone to a smartphone, roll out of 4G and social media usage, says mobile network MTN. 

MTN released a statement on Tuesday where it said that data is the gateway into the rich digital world. However, because of a "lack of insight", customers have experienced bill shock and their experience is spoiled by inexplicable or rapidly depleting data.

“Access to popular social media platforms, streaming and software updates account for the bulk of the data consumption, which accounts for significant amounts of data consumed,” MTN said. 

Furthermore, MTN said that not all devices were created equal.

Tests have found that devices running on certain operating systems consume more data than other devices for the same usage patterns, the company said.

What do you think about MTN's warnings over bill shock? Tell us your thoughts by clicking here.

For example, consumers are unaware that on average they could consume approximately 4.6GB and 1.4GB of data over a four-day period when they are logged on Instagram or Facebook on the 2G and 3G network, MTN noted.

According to the findings of these tests, the depletion rate was as high as 10% between different devices in certain instances.

READ: MTN: Our data costs have decreased 73% in 5 years

“The transition from a feature phone to a smartphone has a significant impact on data usage,” MTN added.

MTN said further stated in a statement that the expansive roll out of 4G or LTE networks has enriched network experience as it resulted in higher upload and download speeds.

In recent years, South African networks has faced questions from subscribers about so-called 'disappearing data'. 

The alleged high cost of mobile data in South Africa also came under scrutiny when radio personality Tbo Touch started the #DataMustFall protest movement, which trended on social media.

READ: Data prices: How SA compares to the rest of the world

South Africa was also rated as having the second highest data contract prices among a select group of seven countries, according to a study by research company Tariffic. 

The study was prompted by the local #datamustfall trend and compared the prices that South Africans pay for “data only” packages comparative to BRICS-member countries Brazil, Russia, India and China.

The study also compared South Africa’s data-only pricing to emerging African market Kenya and the first-world, developed market of Australia.

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