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Vodacom slashes data cost, zero rates services

Vodacom has agreed with the Competition Commission to introduce initiatives that it says will result in a R2.7-billion in savings for customers

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Vodacom South Africa has agreed with the Competition Commission to introduce a range of initiatives from 1 April 2020 to cut the cost of smaller data bundles and increase access to educational, government and health resources online.

The mobile operator says this will result in R2.7-billion in additional savings for customers. However, it has not revealed which rates will be cut, aside from the 1GB prepaid bundle. Vodacom executive head of media relations Byron Kennedy told Gadget that all smaller monthly bundles would be reduced by up to 40%.

Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub said: “Following the release of the Competition Commission’s Final Data Market Inquiry Report in December last year, Vodacom decided to engage constructively with the Commission on the issues arising from the report. The agreement struck with the Commission provides us with an opportunity to enter into a Social Contract with the regulators, our customers and the people of South Africa to bring down the cost to communicate and promote digital inclusion. 

“In terms of the agreement, and following confirmation by the Tribunal, Vodacom will introduce price reductions across all its monthly bundles and provide free access to basic internet, essential services and cheaper pricing to the poorest communities. This will promote greater digital inclusion and assist with societal problems in education and unemployment.”

Over the past three years, Vodacom says, it “has made significant progress in reducing the cost to communicate and making data more accessible, particularly for poorer consumers and communities”.

It gave the following examples:

  • “In 2019, we announced substantial cuts in out-of-bundle tariffs and introduced hourly, daily and weekly bundles with much lower effective prices to drive affordability in addition to overall reductions in bundle prices. These measures contributed to R2 billion in savings for customers and the circa 50% reduction in effective data prices in the past two years.
  • “In line with our purpose of connecting people to a better future, education has been and remains integral to Vodacom in driving digital inclusion. To this end, Vodacom has already connected over 3000 schools and, in partnership with the Department of Basic education, runs 92 teacher training centres and 10 Youth Academies. Vodacom also provides free access to the portals of most of the country’s public universities.”

The data price cuts and free data services that Vodacom will introduce on 1 April 2020 includes:

  • Accelerating our data pricing transformation on our 30-day bundles by reducing prices by up to 40%. Notably, 1GB of data valid for 30 days – often referred to as the “headline price” – will reduce by 34% from R149 to R99 on all channels. Discounts will be provided on all 30-day bundles while further decreases will be effected on 1 April 2021.
  • With regard to access to free data services, we will be consolidating all existing zero-rated data services with new essential services aimed at social upliftment into a single platform called “Connect U”. This social platform will provide Vodacom customers with:
  • Free access to job portals, where youth can search for employment and upload their CVs.
  • Free educational content like our e-School platform which provides CAPS curriculum-aligned content from Grades R – 12.
  • Free Health and wellness information through our Mum & Baby platform focused on equipping mothers and caregivers with advice on pregnancy, neonatal and childcare through SMS, educational articles, tutorials, videos and other tools.
  • Free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.
  • Access to two free SMS’s per day to customers, provided they have made a purchase in the past month and they can access these on the new portal.
  • Extending further discounted bundle offers to pre-paid customers in areas where the majority of people living beneath the food poverty line. This will benefit more than 2000 suburbs and villages, ensuring that this benefits people that really need it most.
  • Zero-rated access to select government sites to assist members of the public in accessing government services such as Home Affairs, Ambulance Services, Education sites and Government Communication Services. This will assist everyone in gaining access to much-needed government services as these are now moving into the digital space as well.
  • Expanding our zero-rated offering to all schools, universities and T-Vet colleges across the country. This will ensure that learners and students enrolled into these institutions will be able to access relevant information for free via their portals.
  • A full zero-rated internet search function powered by Wikipedia. This will allow customers access to the entire Wikipedia database of knowledge free of charge.
  • Free access to other essential information such as local and international headlines, trends and the weather.

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New measures as video production comes to a halt

MultiChoice has announced a range of measures to safeguard the incomes of cast, crew, and creatives, as well as the sustainability of production houses.

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MutliChoice Group has confirmed that production of video entertainment has come to a complete halt in South Africa, as the industry adheres to the national lockdown.

Many sectors across the African continent are adjusting and finding ways to deal with challenges brought about by the current coronavirus pandemic. Among these, MultiChoice Group is one of the best-known brands across Africa, due to its dominance of the video entertainment sector. As a result, it says, it is acutely aware of the challenges its partners in the industry are facing. 

“For many years MultiChoice has been a leader in the sector and are a leading investor in local content production,” it said in a statement on Friday. “The group has deep rooted partnerships and long-standing commitments that have grown the industry for the benefit of many, both in front and behind the camera.”

For this reason, says MultiChoice, it has decided to implement several measures aimed at safeguarding the incomes of cast, crew, and creatives as well as the sustainability of production houses. 

“With these measures the group can hopefully steer the industry through this tumultuous time.”

MultiChoice announced the following measures:

  • “MultiChoice has set aside R80 million to ensure that current productions are able to pay full salaries of cast, crew, and creatives for the months of March and April, by when hopefully we will have the worst of the disruptions behind us. The need to secure salaries of our creatives goes a long way in creating income stability for them and their families. We believe this to be critical for the industry and in our view simply the right thing to do.
  • “Through the MultiChoice Talent Factory we will be launching an online learning portal that will support over 40 000 members of the industry to gain access to courses and online master classes, so they can continue to hone their craft whilst adhering to the public health measures of social distancing and isolation. 
  • “Furthermore, we have committed to guarantee the incomes of freelancers in our SuperSport Productions, who are currently unable to work due to the suspension of sport and the national lockdown. This extends to guaranteeing the income of freelancers in our broadcast technology environment.”

MultiChoice Group CEO Calvo Mawela said: “Our main concern is to ensure as much as possible that we secure the incomes of creatives, cast and crew over this period. We want to ensure that they and their families are not negatively impacted as work has come to a standstill.

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Nintendo South Africa launches online gameathon

Nintendo’s South African distributor has set up live events for virtual participation during lockdown.

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Being stuck inside doesn’t mean not being with the game. Players now have the chance to meet up virtually to play Nintendo Switch Online games like Ring Fit AdventureAnimal Crossing: New Horizons, and Pokémon Sword and Shield

A daily schedule is available for each game. For example, Ring Fit Adventure has a kids challenge at 9am from Monday to Friday, while adults can join in at 2pm. The challenges are co-ordinated by a dedicated Ring Fit coach. 

The challenge instructions will be available via the Discord channel. Join the channel via the invite here

Players of all skill levels are encouraged to join. Plenty tips and tricks will be shared about the games. 

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