South Africans are upgrading mobile devices from feature phones (think Nokia 3310’s) to data-hungry smartphones at an unprecedented rate. In fact, 84% of South Africans access the internet from their phone according to a Fin24 article. This has caused absolute outrage from consumers as the data providers (Vodacom, MTN, Cell C etc.) have failed to deal with the demand for data. Meaning their pricing model is cockeyed to put it politely…
A study done by Tariffic showed that South Africa was consistently the second most expensive country for data packages (behind Brazil), no matter if bought in bulk or not.
This is what caused Social Media phenomenon #DataMustFall & #SocialMediaBlackOut
Until the data providers manage to reduce their data pricing to something normal here are some tips:
Reduce your App Collection
Apps chow data guys, and sneakily too! Those snapchats are just auto-refreshing without you even knowing. Make sure all the apps you have in your collection are actually used regularly. If not…Delete!
2. Change your app settings
As we said, apps eat & deplete data in the background. For those essential apps you need to keep you should reduce the frequency they search for new content. Follow these guides if you want to learn how:
3. Turn off wifi Assist
Wifi assist is when your smartphone automatically uses cellular data in a wifi zone to help the wifi if the connection cuts. This happens so often, and without you even noticing. Imagine the bill you’ll receive if you were streaming a movie at home on your tablet and then your wifi cuts.
On Android it is called auto network switch, or smart network switch. To turn it off, go to Settings, wi-fi, Options, Advanced, then Smart network switch or Auto network switch.
On Apple iOS 9 devices, the feature is called wi-fi Assist and it’s switched on by default. To disable it go to Settings, Cellular, then wi-fi Assist.
4. Use sites which are free from data charges
No, this is not a scam. It actually exists in South Africa.
There are some sites you can browse from your phone for free, even while you are not in a wifi zone! Here’s how, depending on your provider:
For Cell C customers there are a host of sites they offer for you to browse using Free Basics. This includes Facebook.com, Supersport.co.za, News24, Health24 and of course some job hunting sites like Careers24 and Gumtree. All you have to do is turn on cellular data and visit freebasics.com.
For Vodacom customers, especially if you are a jobseeker you can browse up to 8 career websites. All you have to do is visit Vodacom’s website and click on the portals picture to visit their site for free.
For MTN customers, they have zero rated a few websites such as Wikipedia, Educational website MoMaths and many university pages, so you can apply without data charges (Check if yours is zero rated).
To access Wikipedia for free on the MTN network:
1. Download the MTN branded Opera Mini browser for free at m.opera.com
on any cellphone with an MTN SIM card
2. Go to m.wikipedia.org using the MTN branded Opera Mini browser
To access MoMaths for free on the MTN network:
1. Sign up at momaths.nokia.com/za on any cellphone with an MTN SIM card
2. Login with your username and password to practice and learn maths on your
For Telkom Mobile customers they have a service called “Reverse Bill URL” which is basically like a collect call you used to make to your mom off a tiki box but for browsing a University website – and they are billed for your data consumption. It works as long as you have a Telkom prepaid or postpaid SIM card.
There you have it, save yourself some cash guys. You’ll thank yourself later. Let us know if you have any further tips to save on data costs in SA!