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How to upgrade and save on cellphone bills

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Recent results have shown that South Africans can save up to 18% on their cellular bills should they change their contracts on their expiry dates.

If you were on the perfect package 2 years ago, how much can you save by moving to the perfect package now? Tariffic, a South African company that helps businesses and individuals manage & minimise their cellphone bills, has just released its quarterly ‘’Tariffic Tracker’’.   The findings show that consumers can save 18% on their cellphone bills after 2 years by making sure they upgrade to the perfect cellphone contract for them.

Tariffic saves its users about 40% on their cellphone bills by ensuring that they’re on the right packages and that cellphone are being managed properly.  Antony Seeff, Tariffic’s CEO, says, “By optimising your contracts every time they expire, you can save an additional 18% which is a total saving of nearly 50% on your original cellphone bill.”

Key findings from Tariffic’s Tracker  

  • South African Mobile Network Operators are introducing new packages on a regular basis, and have introduced nearly 40 different packages over the past two years.  Within a period of under two years, our users could save an average of 18% on their voice contracts by making sure that they’re on the right packages when their contracts expire.  In order to achieve this, the consumers considered would have had to move to a different package in 75% of the cases.  And it’s impossible to identify which package to change to without help.  Consumers can find their perfect packages, for free, at www.tariffic.com
  • Telkom and Cell C currently offer the cheapest voice contracts, followed in most cases by MTN.  Vodacom comes in last in 3 out of 4 instances.
  • Cell C’s new Pinnacle packages are offering an incredible amount of value thanks to their introductory promotion which sees users getting 3x the inclusive value of the contract, for the lifetime of the contract, if they sign up before the end of January 2017.  These Pinnacle packages are being recommended for 3 out of 4 users and coming in as the Tariffic Pick in 2 of those cases.
  • Telkom’s new data-centric FreeMe packages are also performing incredibly well, and are being recommended for all the voice contract users considered.  Even though these packages are showing an average saving of 29%, they are being compared to Telkom’s previous packages which were also very affordably priced.
  • MTN customers are seeing an average saving of a massive 33% over the 18 months due to the introduction of MTN’s MyMTNChoice+ Packages.
  • Not only have Vodacom not introduced any new packages to our Tariffic Tracker users, but the prices for their Smart contracts have actually increased over the period.
  • When it comes to data contracts, there has been very little movement in the market.  No meaningful new packages have been introduced over the period and although Cell C’s data prices have come down slightly (by 5% for Maleek), MTN’s have increased by the same amount.

    The Tracker Findings

Notes On The Calculations

  • Tariffic only offers packages that are publicly available in service providers’ broadsheets and websites.
  • Only SIM-only deals from the 4 major network operators were considered.
  • The Tariffic Tracker users are based on actual user profiles, and it is assumed that these users’ behaviour has stayed consistent over the period.
  • Tariffic doesn’t take into account any short-term promotional bundles offered as part of a contract. Promotions that are included for the full 24-month period of the contract are included, and are valid as of the publication date.
  • The total price shown will include the additions of any necessary add-on bundles and out of bundle spend.

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When will we stop calling them phones?

If you don’t remember when phones were only used to talk to people, you may wonder why we still use this term for handsets, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, on the eve of the 10th birthday of the app.

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Do you remember when handsets were called phones because, well, we used them to phone people?

It took 120 years from the invention of the telephone to the use of phones to send text.

Between Alexander Graham Bell coining the term “telephone” in 1876 and Finland’s two main mobile operators allowing SMS messages between consumers in 1995, only science fiction writers and movie-makers imagined instant communication evolving much beyond voice. Even when BlackBerry shook the business world with email on a phone at the end of the last century, most consumers were adamant they would stick to voice.

It’s hard to imagine today that the smartphone as we know it has been with us for less than 10 years. Apple introduced the iPhone, the world’s first mass-market touchscreen phone, in June 2007, but it is arguable that it was the advent of the app store in July the following year that changed our relationship with phones forever.

That was the moment when the revolution in our hands truly began, when it became possible for a “phone” to carry any service that had previously existed on the World Wide Web.

Today, most activity carried out by most people on their mobile devices would probably follow the order of social media in first place – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all jostling for attention – and  instant messaging in close second, thanks to WhatsApp, Messenger, SnapChat and the like. Phone calls – using voice that is – probably don’t even take third place, but play fourth or fifth fiddle to mapping and navigation, driven by Google Maps and Waze, and transport, thanks to Uber, Taxify, and other support services in South Africa like MyCiti,  Admyt and Kaching.

Despite the high cost of data, free public Wi-Fi is also seeing an explosion in use of streaming video – whether Youtube, Netflix, Showmax, or GETblack – and streaming music, particularly with the arrival of Spotify to compete with Simfy Africa.

Who has time for phone calls?

The changing of the phone guard in South Africa was officially signaled last week with the announcement of Vodacom’s annual results. Voice revenue for the 2018 financial year ending 31 March had fallen by 4.6%, to make up 40.6% of Vodacom’s revenue. Total revenue had grown by 8.1%, which meant voice seriously underperformed the group, and had fallen by 4% as a share of revenue, from 2017’s 44.6%.

The reason? Data had not only outperformed the group, increasing revenue by 12.8%, but it had also risen from 39.7% to 42.8% of group revenue,

This means that data has not only outperformed voice for the first time – as had been predicted by World Wide Worx a year ago – but it has also become Vodacom’s biggest contributor to revenue.

That scenario is being played out across all mobile network operators. In the same way, instant messaging began destroying SMS revenues as far back as five years ago – to the extent that SMS barely gets a mention in annual reports.

Data overtaking voice revenues signals the demise of voice as the main service and key selling point of mobile network operators. It also points to mobile phones – let’s call them handsets – shifting their primary focus. Voice quality will remain important, but now more a subset of audio quality rather than of connectivity. Sound quality will become a major differentiator as these devices become primary platforms for movies and music.

Contact management, privacy and security will become critical features as the handset becomes the storage device for one’s entire personal life.

Integration with accessories like smartwatches and activity monitors, earphones and earbuds, virtual home assistants and virtual car assistants, will become central to the functionality of these devices. Why? Because the handsets will control everything else? Hardly.

More likely, these gadgets will become an extension of who we are, what we do and where we are. As a result, they must be context aware, and also context compatible. This means they must hand over appropriate functions to appropriate devices at the appropriate time. 

I need to communicate only using my earpiece? The handset must make it so. I have to use gesture control, and therefore some kind of sensor placed on my glasses, collar or wrist? The handset must instantly surrender its centrality.

There are numerous other scenarios and technology examples, many out of the pages of science fiction, that point to the changing role of the “phone”. The one thing that’s obvious is that it will be silly to call it a phone for much longer.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube
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MTN 5G test gets 520Mbps

MTN and Huawei have launched Africa’s first 5G field trial with an end-to-end Huawei 5G solution.

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The field trial demonstrated a 5G Fixed-Wireless Access (FWA) use case with Huawei’s 5G 28GHz mmWave Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) in a real-world environment in Hatfield Pretoria, South Africa. Speeds of 520Mbps downlink and 77Mbps uplink were attained throughout respectively.

“These 5G trials provide us with an opportunity to future proof our network and prepare it for the evolution of these new generation networks. We have gleaned invaluable insights about the modifications that we need to do on our core, radio and transmission network from these pilots. It is important to note that the transition to 5G is not just a flick of a switch, but it’s a roadmap that requires technical modifications and network architecture changes to ensure that we meet the standards that this technology requires. We are pleased that we are laying the groundwork that will lead to the full realisation of the boundless opportunities that are inherent in the digital world.” says Babak Fouladi, Group Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer, at MTN Group.

Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer for MTN SA said: “Next generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high definition video streaming, and cloud gaming require massive capacity and higher user data rates. The use of millimeter-wave spectrum bands is one of the key 5G enabling technologies to deliver the required capacity and massive data rates required for 5G’s Enhanced Mobile Broadband use cases. MTN and Huawei’s joint field trial of the first 5G mmWave Fixed-Wireless Access solution in Africa will also pave the way for a fixed-wireless access solution that is capable of replacing conventional fixed access technologies, such as fibre.”

“Huawei is continuing to invest heavily in innovative 5G technologies”, said Edward Deng, President of Wireless Network Product Line of Huawei. “5G mmWave technology can achieve unprecedented fiber-like speed for mobile broadband access. This trial has shown the capabilities of 5G technology to deliver exceptional user experience for Enhanced Mobile Broadband applications. With customer-centric innovation in mind, Huawei will continue to partner with MTN to deliver best-in-class advanced wireless solutions.”

“We are excited about the potential the technology will bring as well as the potential advancements we will see in the fields of medicine, entertainment and education. MTN has been investing heavily to further improve our network, with the recent “Best in Test” and MyBroadband best network recognition affirming this. With our focus on providing the South Africans with the best customer experience, speedy allocation of spectrum can help bring more of these technologies to our customers,” says Giovanni.

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