Business and Technology

Cell C not reducing its data prices & here’s why

South Africa’s third-biggest mobile network, Cell C, will not be following in the footsteps of its bigger rivals, MTN and Vodacom, by lowering its data prices.

MTN and Vodacom announced price cuts to their data offerings following recommendations by the Competition Commission after it held a data market price inquiry last year.

Cell C, on the other hand, said the reduced prices from MTN and Vodacom were normal prices that it had been offering since 2018.

“The Commission’s recommendations on data price cuts have resulted in industry prices now falling to levels that Cell C has been offering since 2018 and the company is happy to have concluded an agreement in these circumstances,” said Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson.

Instead, what it is offering is tied to Cell C’s social responsibility to ensure that lower-income consumers have access to essential communication services through the provision of free daily lifeline data and the zero-rating of essential government and educational services.

“It is important to keep in mind that the Inquiry did not find any evidence that Cell C had contravened the Competition Act, rather that certain industry-wide measures would improve access by lower-income consumers,” said Cell C Chief Legal Officer, Zahir Williams.

Here’s what’s on the table:

1. Lifeline package

Cell C will by 1 May 2020, launch a free lifeline package capped at 250KB per day at a bundle size determined by Cell C, accessible to the Cell C pre-paid customer base. In this regard, Cell C will further enhance its lifeline package to allow for direct messaging to another Cell C customer via Cell C App (and portal). In addition, the package, to be filed with ICASA under the End User Services and Subscriber Charter Regulations (EUSSR), includes:

⦁ Delivery conversion to SMS (i.e. SMS delivery fall back) for customers who are not on the app.
⦁ Five free SMS per customer per day (Cell C to Cell C) PLUS.
⦁ Seven free Call Mes per day (across the network and currently available).
⦁ Free basics ( access.
Customers can access the Lifeline bundle via:
⦁ a USSD (shortcode) string/Cell C app or portal.
⦁ When the request is received, the system will check if the customer qualifies.
⦁ If the customer qualifies, the lifeline bundle is activated and the customer will receive an SMS confirmation.
⦁ When the bundle is completely depleted OR if it is not and expires at 00h00:00, the system will send the customer a depletion/expiry message. Customers will be able to access their balances on the app, portal and via USSD (shortcode).

Limitations of the lifeline package:

The following limits will be in place to manage potential fraudulent usage/abuse:

⦁ No video or streaming of sites other than YouTube where there is some educational and health content available (i.e. no Netflix / Showmax / Google Movies / Amazon prime / AppleTV / Spotify / Joox / Google or Apple Music etc.).

2. Effective rate notification/transparency

To ensure transparency for the benefit of customers, Cell C will implement Effective Rate (ER) notifications that will allow customers to check usage per MB price. This enhances price transparency, particularly for products no shorter than 30-day bundles, hybrid and post-paid customers.

The platform will assist customers to view a single landing page/USSD (shortcode) number that directs them to promotional or personalized offers. The effective rate will take a period of 6-9 months to implement.


1. Free Services

Cell C already offers a range of free services that subscribers can use to stay in contact with loved ones and stay informed about the Coronavirus through government, news and health sites including:

⦁ Zero-rating the national COVID-19 website (
⦁ Free push SMSes promoting the COVID-19 WhatsApp number 0600 123 456.
⦁ Free access to Mpilo: Healthcare in Your Hands app, which was recently enhanced to help with Coronavirus screenings.
⦁ Access to Free Basics by Facebook, which provides people with access to useful services on their mobile phones in markets where internet access may be less affordable.
⦁ Free Access to MomConnect, The Department of Health’s maternal service.
⦁ Free access to essential information such as local and international headlines, education sites, health sites, weather services and more through Free Basics/
⦁ Five Free SMSes per day, which is available through the Cell C app (also zero-rated for customers).
⦁ We are in the process of zero-rating some tertiary and health institution websites to enable free usage.

2. Zero-rating of Public Benefit Organisations (PBO) content

Cell C will provide zero-rated access to customers on websites of designated PBOs on an affordable limit. These include National Government and Local Government content focused on:
⦁ Education (
⦁ Health (
⦁ Social Services (
⦁ Child welfare (
⦁ Transport (
⦁ Security (
⦁ Home Affairs (
⦁ Eskom & local power utilities
⦁ Prasa and other transport services servicing the mass market segment
⦁ South African Depression and Anxiety Support (SADAG) –
⦁ Lifeline –
⦁ Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) –

In other news – Kaizer Chiefs star Khama Billiat attacked for donating to South Africa instead of Zimbabwe in fight against Coronavirus

Looking at the bad situation Zimbabwe is in right now, people expected if the player could donate, he would have considered where he comes from first, before anything.

Khama Billiat

South African based Zimbabwean footballer Khama Billiat has again hogged headlines following sensational reports that he has ‘betrayed’ his country. continue reading

Source: EWN

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