MTN announced on Monday that it has increased its WhatsApp social bundle pricing.
In April 2018, South Africa’s second biggest mobile phone operator launched its social bundles and introduced a monthly WhatsApp bundle of 1GB for just R10.
The WhatsApp bundle pricing was aimed to further drive down the cost to communicate for South Africans.
MTN said the customer’s response has been exceptional to the WhatsApp bundle.
The company said WhatsApp usage on its network has increased by 300% in the past two months. “Millions of South Africans are using WhatsApp on our network and millions more have been buying these bundles.”
Mapula Bodibe, MTN SA’s executive for Consumer Business, said in a statement that all South Africans deserve the benefits of a connected life and our first attempt at a very low-cost WhatsApp bundle aimed to create those connections for South Africans across the country, regardless of whether those customers are in cities, suburbs or rural areas.
An unintended consequence of this low-priced WhatsApp data has been an extraordinary increase in demand on MTN’s 3G network.
MTN’s dual data strategy has seen consistent and sustained investment in both our 3G and 4G networks over the past few years to deliver a world class network experience.
In addition to this, MTN is currently investing a further R200 million in the 3G network, to accommodate the huge spike in traffic that is being driven by the demand for WhatsApp.
MTN’s WhatsApp bundle will be repriced from R10 to R30, however, the most vulnerable South Africans that are currently spending less than R10 on WhatsApp per month, will be protected from the change in pricing and will still have access to this low-cost WhatsApp bundles.
“These customers, who are primarily using feature phones on our 3G network, will still pay just R10 a month for their WhatsApp access,” Bodibe says.
For other customers, making use of WhatsApp social bundles, the 1GB WhatsApp bundle will become R30 as of 16 July 2018.
“Social media usage remains a dynamic and ever-changing environment. Our commitment remains to continue driving down the cost of data with a strong focus on alleviating pressure on the most vulnerable in our society. However, to protect the quality of our 3G network for all South Africans, we are having to make this difficult decision.”
The company said a significant portion of its current customer base make use of feature phones and this is particularly evident in rural parts of South Africa.
“Spend on these 3G handsets in rural areas, tends to be on the much lower end and we want to continue to offer affordable data access through WhatsApp bundles to this group of South Africans, who need to communicate but whom can least afford it,” Bodibe says.