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Top ten travel tips

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With Christmas and New Years only a few days away, South Africans are beginning to hit the beach and go on holiday. Tariffic offers the top ten travel tips to avoid cellphone bill shock.

  • Not all roaming networks are created equal
  • It is important for you to research which networks will be the cheapest to roam on when you are overseas and manually connect to the cheapest networks when you land. Roaming rates in some cases vary drastically depending on which network your phone automatically connects to upon arrival in a country overseas.  For example, if Tshepo, with an MTN SIM while roaming in the United States, connects to AT&T, she’ll pay a cool R1/MB for data roaming, but if she happens to connect to the T-Mobile network, she’ll pay a massive R225/MB for data roaming!
  • Don’t use data roaming unless you absolutely have to
  • While some countries have more favourable data roaming rates, others, like Thailand will cost you anywhere between R120.27/MB on Telkom to R300.00/MB on MTN. So a couple of Instagram sessions for Howard could easily cost a few thousand rand!   It is best to rather turn off data roaming when its not 100% necessary and rather connect to WiFi networks where available.
  • Save money by buying a local SIM card when you land
  • Try buy a local prepaid SIM card when you land which will be much more affordable when making local calls and using local data while overseas.  It may be worth considering a dual SIM phone if you travel often so that you can still receive calls on your South African number but can make calls and use data with a local SIM.
  • Try not to make local calls with your South African SIM card
  • Some networks have fairly competitive rates for local calls while overseas, such as Cell C’s R1.87/min rate in the United States, but it is often very expensive to make a local call with your South African SIM card with calls in Thailand for example costing R15/min on MTN. Rather try connect to a local WiFi hotspot and make free calls using Skype, Whatsapp, or Facebook calling.
  • Beware of answering incoming calls
  • Answering calls from South Africa can become a very costly exercise while you’re traveling with rates as high as R27.64/min to receive a call in England if you’re on Cell C.  Rather notify your friends, family, and colleagues that you’ll be away and ask them to rather SMS or Whatsapp you.
  • Turn off voicemail when travelling abroad
  • Did you know that if you’re overseas and someone calls your phone and leaves a voicemail message, then you’ll pay for that call?  This becomes really expensive when you consider that you’ll pay international calling rates for that call, so if Chris is on Telkom and receives a one minute long voicemail message while he’s in Mauritius, it could cost him R14.23.
  • Save money with roaming deals
  • Many of the networks now offer roaming deals, which give you access to cheaper roaming rates in certain countries, for free or for a daily fee.  Examples of this include Vodacom’s Travel Saver and MTN’s Roam Like Home.
  • Rather receive a call from South Africa than call South Africa from overseas
  • Want to speak to loved ones in SA while you’re overseas?  It often works out much cheaper to receive a call from overseas than it is to call from overseas to South Africa.  For example, it could cost you R23.50/min to call South Africa from America on Vodacom, but will only cost R6/min to receive a call from South Africa.
  • Rather use WhatsApp on WiFi than SMS
  • SMS rates vary from country to country with MTN’s rates ranging from R1/SMS (if you’re in the US), to R7.50 (if you’re in Thailand), so a quick convo between Howard and his bae can add up pretty quickly.  Just think that a few emoticons could land up easily costing him over R100! Rather use Whatsapp than SMS.
  • Find the perfect cell phone contract based on your travels
  • If you consider yourself a global jetsetter, then get in touch with Tariffic where we can analyse how you use your phone to scientifically find the perfect cell phone package for you based on your lifestyle.  This will include the best package to make international calls based on your previous usage.  We’re saving companies and consumers up to 50% on their cell phone bills, so let us do the same for you.

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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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