Choosing a cell phone network can be tricky. While South Africa currently only has a limited number of networks, each has a different focus and offer different benefits. Here, we compare the cellular networks 8ta vs. Vodacom vs. MTN.
While Vodacom and MTN have been in the South African market since cell phones were introduced in the country, 8ta is a newcomer to the cellular market. However, 8ta is backed by Telkom, meaning that despite its relative novelty in the market, it is founded in the most established telecommunications operator in South Africa.
Vodacom is seen as the biggest cellular network in South Africa, although recent AMPS (All Media Products and Services) data suggests that MTN and Vodacom market share is now almost equal. Vodacom was the first network to introduce prepaid airtime to the world.
They also pioneered community cellular units in South Africa, creating an opportunity for entrepreneurs, while allowing township dwellers to access cellular technologies. Interestingly Vodacom was also the first network to introduce Blackberry.
Vodacom has also recently launched M-PESA, the mobile money application, as well as the very new COLOR – an application allowing users to register, create and share information, photos and music like never before.
MTN is hot on Vodacom’s tail in terms of market share. They are also one of the biggest providers of Internet Service Providers (ISP) in Africa. Their Blackberry packages provide a wireless communication tool designed especially for mobile professionals with high communication needs. Customers can also manager their contacts and calendar, making it a full personal assistant in a single integrated communication device.
MTN also provides mobile banking through MTN MobileMoney, allowing banking customers to register to do all of their banking online. MTN also offers the “Big Bonus” – which allows PayAsYouGo customers to change their pricing plan on a monthly basis. They also offer an ATM top up facility which allows customers to top up their airtime through an ATM facility.
8ta, also known as Heita!, is the newest kid on the block. They have created a sales network that spreads across South Africa, incorporating major consumer retailers such as Game, Checkers, Edgars and the like, as well the Telkom Direct outlets, and the 8ta flagship stores. To date 8ta has 800 base stations across South Africa, with plans to construct a further 3200 base stations across the country. At this point in time, 8ta makes use of full national coverage with a roaming agreement with MTN.
8ta has come in with low pricing and numerous additional bonuses which make it very difficult for the prepaid market not to consider this network. “Good news for text enthusiasts is that when you send 5 SMS’s in a day, 8ta will give you 50 bonus SMS’s at no extra cost to use that same day. The bonus SMS’s will however expire at the end of each day”.
Vodacom, 8ta and MTN are all cellular networks which have established backing, and are not fly-by night providers. Comparing cellular networks should be founded primarily on your needs – find out what you want from a network, and then establish which of these best provides for these needs.