Capitec Connect vs FNB Connect vs Standard Bank Mobile – prices compared

 ·26 Sep 2022

South Africa’s biggest bank by customers, Capitec, has launched a new mobile offering promising to shake up prepaid pricing in the county.

The group joins two other banks with its own Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) status, following FNB, which launched FNB Connect back in 2015, and Standard Bank Mobile, which launched in 2018.

At R4.50 per 100 Megabytes or R45 per Gigabyte, Capitec Connect data is on average 50% below the normal market price, and the rates remain flat whether clients buy small or large quantities, the group claims.

“The data also never expires, provided the SIM is used at least once in 6 months, which means that Capitec clients never lose what they paid for,” it said. The Capitec Connect prepaid pricing is as follows:

  • R45 per GB (~5 cents per MB)
  • 90c per minute of talk time
  • 25c per SMS

Capitec Connect piggybacks off the Cell C network. This is the same network used by FNB Connect. Standard Bank Mobile, meanwhile, uses both Cell C and MTN’s network capacity.

Capitec’s offering is a pure prepaid service with no contracts and device sales attached. FNB Connect also offers a prepaid option, along with a host of contract and device bundles, including data-only packages.

Standard Bank’s foray into mobile services is more complicated, attaching its pricing structures to banking accounts and its rewards programmes. The bank provides a convoluted breakdown of how the system works on its website – but for the comparisons below, we’ve selected the standard out-of-bundle rates.

This is how the three banking networks compare on the basics of prepaid:

Network Talk per min Data per MB SMS per message
Capitec Connect 90 cents 5 cents 25 cents
FNB Connect 140 cents 20 cents 50 cents
Standard Bank Mobile 129 cents 49 cents 60 cents

Just like Capitec disrupted low-cost banking in South Africa, the bank looks to be embarking on a similar strategy in the mobile space, offering the lowest pricing compared to its closest competitors.

Even Standard Bank’s cheapest bundled options come in at a higher price point at 15c per MB and 99c per minute in a voice call.

However, because the banks piggyback off the established mobile operator’s networks, comparing their prices to the standard rates is also quite revealing.

The table below outlines the same prepaid prices among the standard networks:

Network Talk per min Data per MB SMS per message
Capitec Connect 90 cents 5 cents 25 cents
Vodacom Per Second OOB 125 cents 49 cents 52 cents
MTN Per Second OOB 99 cents 49 cents 50 cents
Telkom Mobile OOB 75 cents 32 cents 50 cents
Cell C 66cents 66 cents 16 cents 16 cents

One of the key differentiators of Capitec Connect is the fact that data does not expire, the group said.

Regulations proposed in 2017 by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) and the National Consumer Commissioner advocated for data to remain valid for at least three years.

These proposed regulations were later removed from the charter and replaced with more lenient provisions.

Data expiration has been a controversial topic among mobile operators, which have introduced various ways to ‘roll-over’ data for a set period, but have been unable to drop the expiration entirely.

The big mobile operators, like Vodacom, have argued that the proposal would lead to much higher data prices. Capitec said it is now addressing the issue of data expiry head-on.

Speaking to MyBroadband, security researcher Rogan Dawes provided a technical explanation on why data expiry leads to cheaper prices.

Dawes explained that internet service providers (ISPs), including mobile networks, buy capacity rather than data, and that capacity has a time element, expressed as “per second”,  which data did not. Unused capacity can never be recovered.

Dawes said that enforcing lengthy data rollover periods could cause “all sorts of problems”. For example, if most subscribers only started using their data at the end of a long expiry period, the ISP would need to upgrade capacity to avoid their connection hitting the ceiling.

If the ISP has to buy more capacity from the get-go to account for this possibility, they would have to pass the extra costs on to their customers.

Read: Capitec launches mobile services

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