MTN has announced some good news for data users, but warned that the big price cuts anticipated when the first undersea cable comes on line in the next few weeks will probably not materialise.
With immediate effect, MTN customers can now able to carry over unused capacity and load new bundles throughout the month instead of having to pay out-of-bundle rates. The high-end bundle has also been extended from 2Gb to 3Gb and the out-of-bundle rates flattened to be less complex.
Brian Seligman, senior manager for data bearers at MTN SA, says the latest announcements come as a result of usage requirements that are changing as the network becomes more sophisticated.
Data capacity can now be carried forward for an additional 30 days, so users don't have to worry about losing out on access they haven't been able to use in a single month, Seligman says.
In addition, customers who need more capacity in a single month than their bundle allows have traditionally been forced to pay more expensive out-of-bundle rates. Now, they will be able to load additional bundles as they require, which will help keep their costs lower.
"We've also flattened the out-of-bundle rate, so there is an average 33% saving," Seligman says.
He says MTN has also given customers the ability to absolutely cap their usage. "We can stop access at the level set by the customer, who can then download pre-paid airtime if he wishes."
The high-end data bundle, meanwhile, has been extended from 2Gb to 3Gb as Seligman says MTN is seeing a lot more customers starting to emerge into this category.
"The best this is that all existing customers automatically get all these features," he says. "There is no need for anyone to register or apply."
While data rates are becoming more attractive, Seligman warns that the huge price cuts that many consumers are expecting once the new undersea cables become operational won't be materialising.
"The stories we hear about 90% reductions in data costs are not realistic. The undersea cable is a small percentage of the data cost and there are other things that need to be put in place first."