Logo of Vodafone

As part of its pricing transformation strategy, anchored by personalised packages aimed at giving customers greater value, Vodacom announced on Wednesday that it will zero rate services to universities for students and staff who are its subscribers.

The Vodafone-owned mobile phone operator said in a statement that this in a bid to help address cost challenges associated with access to education content and remote learning for institutions of higher learning.

The firm said it has already enabled 19 of the 23 South African Universities, including the University of Cape Town (UCT), with free internet access.

Dr Max Price, UCT Vice-Chancellor, said students and other eligible users will have access to the free service. Free internet access to students and staff has until now only been accessible through the Eduroam Wi-Fi platform that can only be accessible within the vicinity of the university and its residences.

“The service will be very useful to our students in that it will enable them to do their work off-campus without worrying about data costs or without having the need to travel to campus,” he said.

For requirements over and above the zero rated content, Vodacom has launched an e-rate i.e. billing all data traffic to agreed sites at 50% of the normal data rates for all universities.

Vodacom has over the last four years produced a reduction in the price of data and voice by more than 60% and 57% respectively.

The mobile phone firm added that it remain committed to addressing data cost transformation and building on its Siyakha platform that offers zero-rated portals for school learners and job seekers.

“Many learners in our country often cannot afford and don’t have access to learning material such as textbooks, which makes excelling at school more difficult,” Vodacom Managing Executive for Western Cape Region, Alberts Breed says.

“As an investor in the country and an established partner in addressing social challenges, Vodacom’s goal is to contribute to ensuring that learners throughout the country have access to some of the educational tools to help enhance their learning experience.”

He emphasised that education is not just a government issue, but the private sector and the general public are to play a pivotal roles in providing access to higher education and further education and training.