The Competition Commission has outlined the settlement it has reached with Vodacom as regards price cuts the Commission ordered late last year.

The first, and perhaps biggest piece of news is a reduction in the price of 30-day data bundles. From 1st April prices will be reduced by up to 40 percent.

Vodacom says that 1GB of data will be reduced from R149 to R99.

The telco says that all 30-day bundles will be discounted.

“Having heard the concerns raised by the Competition Commission, we proactively entered into a Social Contract with government and the public. We did this at a time when South African consumers are under increasing financial pressure and on the understanding that action will be taken by ICASA and Government to auction high demand spectrum,” said Vodacom Group chief executive officer, Shameel Joosub said in a statement.

“In terms of the agreement, and following confirmation by the Tribunal, Vodacom will introduce price reductions across all its monthly bundles and provide free access to basic internet, essential services and cheaper pricing to the poorest communities. This will promote greater digital inclusion and assist with societal problems in education and unemployment,” Joosub added.

These changes are being presented as a social contract through which Vodacom hopes to promote digital inclusion.

It appears as if price cuts will be an ongoing task over the next two years. For now, R99 for 1GB of data from Vodacom is good news.

In terms of free services, Vodacom is pulling out all the stops.

From 1st April the following will be introduced:

  • Free access to job portals, where youth can search for employment and upload their CVs.
  • Free educational content like our e-School platform which provides CAPS curriculum aligned content from Grades R – 12.
  • Free Health and wellness information through our Mum & Baby platform focused on equipping mothers and caregivers with advice on pregnancy, neonatal and childcare through SMS, educational articles, tutorials, videos and other tools.
  • Free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.
  • Access to two free SMS’s per day to customers, provided they have made a purchase in the past month and they can access these on the new portal.
  • Extending further discounted bundle offers to pre-paid customers in areas where the majority of people living beneath the food poverty line. This will benefit more than 2000 suburbs and villages, ensuring that this benefits people that really need it most.
  • Zero-rated access to select government sites to assist members of the public in accessing government services such as Home Affairs, Ambulance Services, Education sites and Government Communication Services. This will assist everyone in gaining access to much needed government services as these are now moving into the digital space as well.
  • Expanding our zero-rated offering to all schools, universities and T-Vet colleges across the country. This will ensure that learners and students enrolled into these institutions will be able to access relevant information for free via their portals.
  • A full zero-rated internet search function powered by Wikipedia. This will allow customers access to the entire Wikipedia database of knowledge free of charge.
  • Free access to other essential information such as local and international headlines, trends and the weather.

That is pretty impressive we have to admit. The fact that Vodacom has zero-rated so many important services is admirable. We hope that this inspires other mobile network operators to do the same.

All in all, Vodacom is implementing free services and price cuts that amount to R2.7 billion.

We now wait for word from MTN on its price decreases.