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Mobile Virtual Network Operators to the Rescue
06 Mar 19


Everyone knows the big four cellular networks in South Africa, namely Cell C, MTN, Vodacom and Telkom. However, not many people know about the many "virtual” networks that exist – and there are many! Quite a few of our visitors ask about an option outside of the big four, an option that is more affordable and a solution, which is a perfect fit to their credit score and which may offer blacklist-assist. This is where the Mobile Virtual Network Operators come to the rescue!In this article, Phil will explain what a Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) is, why Phonefinder loves them, who some of the big players are, and of course how to apply for a great mobile phone deal through an MVNO.

What is an MVNO and why you should care

MVNOs have been blowing up in South Africa! Every Tom, Dick and Phil is launching phone plans in partnership with Cell C, MTN, Vodacom, and the like. What are these MVNOs of which I speak? A Mobile Virtual Network Operator uses the already existing infrastructure of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) but offers its own products and services. Although they aren’t necessarily getting as much airtime (see what I did there?) as the traditional network operators, there is still a lot to love about these flexible, mobile virtual networks:

  • MVNOs often offer much lower rates than MNOs.
  • The flexible pricing options of many MVNOs can accommodate individuals as well as businesses and niche markets.
  • These providers are more likely to try experimental applications and projects.
  • Advertising-funded MVNOs can offer their customers free minutes and text messages.
  • Some MVNOs even run their own billing and customer care services, like Big World Mobile.


MVNOs in South Africa

  • SmartMobile – Brainchild of iSmart, these guys have grown into a phone-jack-of-all-trades, offering affordable cellular services and handsets as part of its month-to-moth SIM-only deals. It’s quick, easy, worth it, smart! So, what are you waiting for – get Smart!

  • Blue Label Connect – It’s a brave blue world and no one connects you to it quite like Blue Label Connect. This Blue Label Telecoms offshoot offers airtime, starter packs and data. Blue Label Connect takes your mobile phone needs very seriously and insists on spoiling its customers with an array of products and perks. Don’t believe me? Have Phonefinder quote you on Blue Label’s offerings today.

  • Big World Mobile – This local telecommunications player is here to help your business boom! Aside from offering its own brand of products, Big World Mobile also offers a high-quality, high-energy call centre team and its own reporting and monitoring system to help you make informed decisions for your organisation.

  • Virgin Mobile – The first MVNO to make its mark on the African continent, Virgin Mobile was launched in South Africa in 2006 as a joint venture between Virgin and Cell C. As with many Virgin offerings, they quickly cornered the market, but homegrown South African competition is giving this international business giant reasons to sweat.

  • MRP Mobile – Mr Price’s MVNO offers prepaid SIM, top up and contract packages from selected Mr Price stores. The clothing-store-crossover is staying ahead of the game, not only with its competitive rates, but also with a selection of value added services like cheaper WhatsApp bundles and unlimited access to the music streaming service, Simfy Africa, and e-zine app, Magzone – turning Mr Price into Mr Priceless!

  • FNB Connect – The banking powerhouse was the first South African bank to take the plunge into the world of MVNOs through a partnership with Cell C. Next time you visit your local FNB branch to ask about a savings account, ask their staff about their prepaid and mobile phone contracts deals. Talk about more bang for your eBuck!

  • Standard Bank Mobile – Not long after FNB Connect hit the market, Standard Bank followed suit with their own MVNO with Cell C in 2017. Of course, as with FNB, this service was conceptualised as an add-on for existing and new Standard Bank customers. I think I smell a trend here.

  • me&you Mobile  Another proudly South African first! me&you Mobile is first SIM-only MVNO to grace South African phones. me&you Mobile is partnered with Cell C, so you can count on quality and convenience. Check out these guys for deals that are cheap and SIM-ple.

  • Hello Mobile – Hello Mobile holds a special place in the hearts of jet-setters and globetrotters in our midst. With its partnerships with Telestream Communications and Cell C, Hello Mobile offers top-shelf international and local call rates to foreigners working in South Africa.


Final word from Phil: If you’re looking for quality phone services tailored to your lifestyle and budget, consider looking into South Africa’s growing MVNO market. Or better yet, let Phonefinder do the looking for you and let us find you the best contract deals on smartphones, data, and more! Just fill out our "Quick Apply” form and one of our agents will get in touch with a number of options for you to choose from.

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