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Cell Phone Usage in South Africa
29 Oct 15
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South African Cell Phone Providers

It is no secret that we South African’s love our cell phones. Just go to an article post on Mybroadband that talks about the latest cell phone or the latest comments made by MTN about WhatsApp, the heated comments will blow you away! We are very serious about our mobile devices.

The common estimate of how many active cellphone activations there are in South Africa is about 80 million. South Africa has a population of 52.98 million (2013 census). That means that the average South African has 1.5 cellphone SIM cards activated. This phenomenon is usual in a developing country where the cell phone network service providers are competing in a changing market. If the data on Cell C (for example) is cheaper than the data on Vodacom, then it makes sense to a price sensitive consumer to switch SIM cards when browsing the internet. On the other hand if the same customer needs to make a call to a friend and it pays him to switch to Vodacom because of the free network-network minutes, then the dual activated SIM cards make sense.

In fact the market in South Africa is anything but stable. Vodacom, who has always been the leading mobile Network in South Africa noted a 3.8% decline in users. MTN on the other hand increased its base by 8.9%. Cell C, one of the newest entrants into South Africa now have a base of around 20 million, with services such as free WhatsApp and their contract buyout plans it is easy to understand why Cell C are gaining subscribers.

Mobile market share in South Africa

Vodacom39.3%
MTN35.1%
Cell C22.7%
Telkom2.3%

The trend now is for the cellular networks to provide more than just cell phone data and voice services. Vodacom and MTN have penetrated the broadband service providers and will soon be offering fibre optic internet services too. Telkom of course started with those services and then offered its consumer’s cell phone related services too. With new services come more competition – so this space will only get more interesting in the future, especially now that the MVNO (mobile virtual network operators) players like me&you mobile have started operating.

The devices chosen in South Africa are also rare when considering the global market. BlackBerry for instance is still a top selected phone across many Network Providers. MTN specials for the BlackBerry Z3 for instance are one of Phonefinder’s primary sold deals. BlackBerry was once the golden child of the cellular world. In 2009 Fortune ranked this mobile device manufacturer as the fastest growing company in the world, but things are a little different now – in 2000 BlackBerry sold 13.2 million devices, this year that number is 1.1 million. However in South Africa BlackBerry still has around 32% of the market.

It is no secret that the mobile space in South Africa is tough to stay on top of. Choosing the most cost effective phone and Network tariff plan is difficult. Phonefinder’s goal is to stay on top of all the voice and data plans on offer. There are currently over 6000 different cell phone deals on Phonefinder, and every month MTN, Cell C, Telkom and Vodacom change the deals, make them more relevant, more competitive and more desirable.

Phonefinder lists the top phone deals at the moment for you to consider, however the top pics change so quickly that it is tough to keep up. This month the new iPhone 6s Plus has received a lot of attention, however remarkably the MTN iPhone 5s has been the most chosen deal (most notably because of its great price).


Cell C data deals have also been seeing a steady rise in demand, this may be due to the great packages available with AG Mobile (cheaper devices built to high quality standards).

In order to keep up to date with what the cell phone networks are offering in South Africa be sure to visit Phonefinder.





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