Rise of the underdogs – South Africa’s smaller operators increase contract values

Safia Khan

Policy Brief 1, 2016

South Africa’s dominant operators, Vodacom and MTN, have increased the average price of postpaid contracts in Q1 2016, following the mid-contract price hikes that took place in Q2 2015. Vodacom and MTN’s price increases have taken the form of increases in monthly subscriptions, or decreases in the quantity of bundled minutes, SMSes and data. While a few of the plans offered by Vodacom and MTN operators have remained unchanged or have decreased in price, most plans have undergone direct or indirect price increases. All is not doom and gloom, however, as smaller players in the market have increased their contract value offerings across the price spectrum. Contract users stand to gain the most in value by selecting from a range of these smaller operators and MVNO’s, especially Cell C, Me&You Mobile and Telkom Mobile. Research ICT Africa uses its unique tool, the Postpaid Value Index (PVI), adapted to a data intensive and smartphone heavy environment, to analyse these postpaid price changes.


1. A year on from the mid-contract price increases by Vodacom, MTN and Cell C that disgruntled many consumers, we reflect on the post-paid market in South Africa to see what has transpired.

2. The value offered by South Africa’s smaller operators has increased, most notably for Cell C and Me&You mobile.

3. Smaller operators are tailoring their offers to increase consumer value.

4. The value offered by Vodacom and MTN has decreased.

5. Vodacom and MTN have experienced a loss in postpaid subscribers.

Suggested citation

Khan, S. (2016). Rise of the underdogs—South Africa’s smaller operators increase contract values (Policy Brief No. 1). Research ICT Africa. https://researchictafrica.net/polbrf/Research_ICT_Africa_Policy_Briefs/2016_Policy_Brief_1_Rise_of_underdogs-South%20Africa.pdf