Mobile data prices: Vodacom cheaper than Europe?

September 28, 2012 8:59 am

The Vodacom CEO recently said that Vodacom’s data prices are “now cheaper than most of Europe”. We test his claim.
Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosubsaid that Vodacom’s pricing “is now cheaper than most of Europe, especially when you are paying R49 for 500MB, R99 for 1GB and R149 for 2GB”.
Speaking to Aki Anastasiou during an online interview, Joosub said that “these data prices” are very cheap when compared to international standards.
Not everyone agrees. Consumers have slated these claims from Joosub as inaccurate and trying to hoodwink local consumers.
Previously Hlelo Giyose, chief investment officer and principal at First Avenue Investment Management, said that Vodacom and MTN have been “psychologically manipulating” consumers and the regulator (ICASA) to believe that South Africa has affordable mobile services.
With the different opinions on pricing, it is of value to compare Vodacom’s mobile data prices to those in European countries.
Pricing comparison
A mobile data pricing comparison between local and international products is challenging because of the different service descriptions, promotional offers, and additional value added to packages by the operators.
For this pricing comparison, MyBroadband looked, as far as possible, at standard data prices offered by mobile operators on a contract offering. For unlimited (aka uncapped) offerings, the fair use limit was used as the data package size.
A few European countries were randomly selected for this pricing comparison, and only large mobile operators were selected to create a level playing field.
In some cases two prices were used for Vodacom – a standard contract rate and a promotional rate. The most accurate comparison will be to look at the standard Vodacom pricing, but because Joosub specifically mentioned the promotional pricing it is of value to also include this rate.
The following tables provide an overview of how Vodacom’s mobile data prices compare with some of the prominent European operators. Currency conversion was done on 27 September 2012.
It should be noted that the packages differ regarding inclusive devices, contract periods and added benefits, but it still serves as a fair comparison of mobile data prices.

Operator Country Data (GB) Price (ZAR)
Base Belgium 0.5 106
T-Mobile Netherlands 0.5 106
Orange UK 0.5 133
Vodacom South Africa 0.5 149
Movistar Spain 0.5 158

Verdict: Vodacom is the second most expensive operator surveyed, and it may be difficult to argue that the company is offering cheaper rates than most European countries.

Operator Country Data (GB) Price (ZAR)
Omnitel Lithuania 1 37
Orange Romania 1 84
VIP Croatia 1 99
Vodacom (promotion) South Africa 1 99
Three UK 1 105
Mobitel Slovenia 1 116
TDC Denmark 1 140
Base Belgium 1 158
T-Mobile Germany 1 211
Vodacom South Africa 1 249

Verdict: Vodacom’s standard pricing is the highest of all operators surveyed, but its promotional prices are competitive. Vodacom’s promotional pricing (which is set to last until December 2012) is therefore cheaper than the standard pricing in many European countries, but the company’s standard pricing is higher than European standards.

Operator Country Data (GB) Price (ZAR)
Orange Romania 2 106
Telia Sweden 2 123
Vodacom (promotion) South Africa 2 149
Orange UK 2 199
Movistar Spain 2 264
Base Belgium 2 264
Vodacom South Africa 2 349

Verdict: Vodacom’s standard pricing is the highest of all operators surveyed, but its promotional prices are competitive. Vodacom’s promotional pricing (which is set to last until December 2012) is therefore cheaper than the standard pricing in many European countries, but the company’s standard pricing is higher than European standards.

Operator Country Data (GB) Price (ZAR)
Omnitel Lithuania 3 89
Sonera Finland 3 126
Vodacom (promotion) South Africa 3 199
T-Mobile Germany 3 316
Vodacom South Africa 3 489

Verdict: Vodacom’s standard pricing is the highest of all operators surveyed, but its promotional prices are competitive. Vodacom’s promotional pricing (which is set to last until December 2012) is therefore cheaper than the standard pricing in many European countries, but the company’s standard pricing is higher than European standards.

Operator Country Data (GB) Price (ZAR)
VIP Croatia 5 186
Mobitel Slovenia 5 201
Orange UK 5 332
Vodacom South Africa 5 789

Verdict: Vodacom’s mobile data pricing is far higher than any other European operator surveyed, and it will be very difficult to argue that Vodacom’s rates are cheaper than most of Europe.

Operator Country Data (GB) Price (ZAR)
Omnitel Lithuania 10 150
Telia Sweden 10 248
TDC Denmark 10 282
Movistar Spain 10 422
T-Mobile Germany 10 527
Vodacom South Africa 10 1449

Verdict: Vodacom’s mobile data pricing is far higher than any other European operator surveyed, and it will be very difficult to argue that Vodacom’s rates are cheaper than most of Europe.

Operator Country Data (GB) Price (ZAR)
Wind Italy 20 127
Sonera Finland 20 189
Mobitel Slovenia 20 306
Telia Sweden 20 372
Vodacom South Africa 20 2859

Verdict: Vodacom’s mobile data pricing is far higher than any other European operator surveyed, and it will be very difficult to argue that Vodacom’s rates are cheaper than most of Europe.
Conclusion
Joosub’s claim that Vodacom’s data prices are “now cheaper than most of Europe” holds some merit when it relates to Vodacom’s current data promotions compared with non-promotional European prices.
When looking at non-promotional rates – which only hold for certain data bundles purchased during the promotional period – Vodacom is significantly more expensive than many of its European counterparts.

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