Data promotions? Not on your smartphone

Many South African smartphone users are not benefiting from the slew of mobile broadband promotions because of billing restrictions from the mobile operators.

VodacomMTNCell C and 8ta are running aggressively priced data promotions, but most of these data promotions are contract deals which cannot be loaded on existing voice contracts.

Vodacom’s current 1GB for R99 data deal is a good example. Many current Vodacom voice subscribers would love to bolt this deal onto their voice contract, but this is not possible.

Instead of paying R99 for 1GB, smartphone users with a Vodacom voice contract must purchase pre-paid bundles priced at R279 for 1GB instead. The other, even worse alternative is to pay R2 per MB for out of bundle data.

With the low pre-paid call rates from the mobile operators – as low as 99c per minute from Cell C and Vodacom – some consumers may want to purchase a contract data promotion and then use pre-paid voice with this contract. This is also not possible.

Vodacom spokesperson Nomsa Thusi said that customers cannot combine a data contract with an existing voice contract. “They can make a call on the data contract and this will be charged at the prevailing rates for those contracts,” said Thusi.

Cell C also said that subscribers can add a data bundle to the voice contract, but not a ‘stand-alone’ data contract. “Customers with voice lines can add the data contract to their “account” but it will be a separate line,” said Cell C.

What many consumers have been asking for is simple: allow them to add a data contract to our existing voice contract. Without such an option it is not possible for many smartphone users to make the most of the current data promotions.

Without this option many of the data promotions are wasted on smartphone users who are signed into two year voice contracts, and therefore cannot use these data contracts on their primary phones.

8ta and MTN were asked for their feedback regarding this issue, but they did not respond by the time of publication.

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Data promotions? Not on your smartphone