Cheapest Mobile Data in South Africa

Deepak Juneja

South Africa has some of the cheapest mobile data rates on the African continent. That’s not really surprising, considering that the country has the biggest economy on the continent. If you live in South Africa, or if you plan on visiting anytime soon, you will be interested in finding out which of the country’s networks offer the most pocket-friendly mobile data prices.

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Rain

Rain is South Africa’s data-only network. That may be something of a handicap if you plan to also use your SIM card for making calls. It’s not such a problem among South African, who generally favour dual SIM phones.

Even for tourists and visitors to the country, solutions exist for calling back home that actually make more sense than traditional phone calls. Putting your phone on roaming while in South Africa can be rather expensive.

It makes better sense to buy a local SIM card, particularly if you are visiting for an extended period of time. You can then call back home either directly or via WhatsApp call, Skype, Zoom or any of the many other solutions that are out there.

But what are the data rates on Rain? The network currently offers Unlimited Home 5G beginning from R499 per month. That’s about $32.94 at today’s exchange rates. You can also get Unlimited 4G for any device for R479. That’s about $31.62 per month.

This later option is great since it can be used in a router, phone or any other device. Speeds are limited at about 10 Mbps. That’s good enough for most streaming, in any case. If you are interested in this particular network, you will want to find out where to buy a Rain SIM card.

The reason why we have put Rain on pole position is the unlimited nature of its data. That makes it ideal for streaming and other activities. If you have decent reception, this network is the one that you will want to go for. The 5G offering is for fixed use in the home or office.

Cell C

Cell C used to be the third-largest mobile network in South Africa. It has since been overtaken by Telkom. That may be the reason why Cell C has been offering ultra-competitive rates on data. The company has clearly been trying to claw back some of its lost space.

At the moment, Cell C offers the cheapest data prices in South Africa. It’s most popular package is the Home Connecta Flexi prepaid LTE package. With this package, you get 10GB of daytime data and another 10GB of night time data for R139. That’s $9.18. If you need more data, you can get the 50GB day + 50 GB night bundle for R199 or $13.20.

The only catch is that Cell C’s Home Connecta Flexi is meant to be used in a fixed setting. It’s for your home and you will need to use the SIM card in a router. That’s fine if you are looking for home internet.

Vodacom

Vodacom is South Africa’s largest mobile network. Coverage is the best in the country and it offers some great deals of data. If you are on Vodacom prepaid, a once-off 10GB bundle will cost you R469. Yes, it’s not the cheapest package that’s on the market today. But Vodacom is best known for the reliability of its network.

Telkom

Telkom is another option for those looking for cheap mobile rates in South Africa. If your area is covered, you can get the SmartBroadband Wireless Prepaid LTE package for R149 per month.

That will give you 10GB of anytime data and 10GB of night data. The challenge with this package is that so far only a few areas around the country are covered. So, if you live away from these areas, you will have to find another solution.

MTN

MTN is the fourth mobile network operator in South Africa. It’s actually the second biggest after Vodacom. But what does it have to offer in terms of data? A 10GB bundle on MTN will cost your R469. That’s the same as Vodacom.

Summary

In this article, we explored the mobile data market in South Africa. We looked at the country’s four major networks. Please note that the plans that were outlined here were true at the time of writing this article. They are bound to change at any time. New bundles that are cheaper could also be made available.

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