Vodacom International offers – a good deal?

Vodacom recently announced 3 offers which affect international mobile spend, but are they a good deal?

Whilst voice bundles for international calls from SA is new, the other 2 existing offers simply increase roaming coverage. The number of countries where Super Saver partner networks exist has increased from 40 to 69, with Passport available in 64 of these.

International outbound voice bundles start at R15 for five minutes (R3/min), while the largest bundle of 400 minutes costs R996 (R2,49/min) to all destinations (Zimbabwe, premium rate and satellite numbers excluded). But wait, as opposed to out of bundle calls which are charged per second, international bundled calls are charged on a per-minute basis (costs 25% more, probably undoing the reduction quoted). There are also bundle expiry and other T&Cs which are unappealing.

Vodacom’s standard data roaming rate per MB for neighbours (R51,20) , sub-Saharan countries (R102,40) and the rest of the world (R128!) are extortionate. Vodacom’s standard international voice roaming rates are R6, R10 and R23 per minute respectively – equally prohibitive! There are also high costs for receiving calls (between R4-R6 per minute) and local calls (R4-8pm). So how do these offers affecting this pricing?

Vodacom’s Super Saver (only in countries where partner networks exist) data rates are R17,50/MB and call rates are 10% cheaper than above. R17.50 /MB is 70x higher than local rates (around 25c/MB) or R 17,500.00 for 1 GB of data!! Call rate reductions of 10% hardly help.

Vodafone Passport, offers the same data rate in 64 countries but also allows roaming users to make roaming calls based on a once-off connection fee of R 17.50 per call + the relevant SA peak, off-net, mobile terminating call rate of your home tariff. The connection fee applies to local, international and received calls (!!) but is waived in Mozambique, Lesotho, Tanzania or Congo (if the local Vodacom network are used).

Therefore if making or receiving longer calls (greater than 4 or 5 minutes) the solution will cost in, however shorter duration calls are charged at around R20 for the first minute or R10 for each of the first 2 minutes…etc….which is substantially higher than the current rates for receiving or making local calls. Voicemail access is also charged at the above rates – generally much shorter call duration.

Vodacom released financial results in May 2011, showing a 28% increase in year-on-year profits to R13.7bn. For a company which is part of the global Vodafone footprint, surely there is much more that could have been done to address international mobile costs. International voice and data costs remain high at Vodacom.