Telkom, Cell C to offer students free data amid protests

Smartphone data. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Smartphone data. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Johannesburg - Telkom and Cell C are now offering students affected by current protests free data to access academic material after missing lecturers.

Both networks announced on Wednesday that they would waiver data charges for students. 

Telkom’s offering will enable universities to allow free access to academic content for students, even if they have run out of data or airtime. 

The service providers will make use of a Reverse Bill URL service to allows students using their networks to access content on a university website without paying for data consumption. 

The Reverse Bill URL works similar to reverse-charges phone calls in previous years, however, the networks have said that students would not be charged. 

Students accessing academic material via Telkom ISP will also benefit from free data as Telkom already zero rates this traffic.

“We hope that this small contribution on our part will assist students to complete the academic year as we work together to build an equitable system for all,” said Sipho Maseko, Telkom CEO.

Students attending a participating university and have a sim card belonging to the Telkom or Cell C network  will be able to make use of the service.

Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos said that the service would continue till the year-end.

“We know students are facing a tough time at the moment, and many need to gain access to course material through their university’s online portal in order to complete their academic year. Zero-rating access is our way of assisting students.” 

Cell C’s service will complement the free basic internet services through Facebook’s FreeBasics, which includes access to Wikipedia and other information-based sites.

A list of the participating institutions will be updated and published on both networks' websites, after the negotiations with the universities have taken place.

Students will be able to buy and Rica sim cards from stores, national chains and participating dealers.

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