Low cost internet - a GPRS/EDGE/3G/HSDPA vs. Dialup comparison

Note: (23 February 2010)

The data rates on this page is a bit outdated. Go to the updated data cost comparison page to see all the rates and packages from all the operators.

Most people seem to think that dialup is the cheapest way to connect to the internet in South Africa. Although this is true for some users, it is not the only cheap option. GPRS provides data transfer to mobile phones. You can connect your phone to your PC and get access to the internet. There are also data cards (modems) available for the PC/laptop.

If you don't transfer that much data or only occasionally check your email or webmail, dialup might be more expensive than other options. You can transfer at least 100MB on GPRS per month for cheaper than the monthly dialup costs. You don't need a fixed phone line or a monthly contract. GPRS is a little bit slower than dialup but it should not be noticeable to the normal user. It is especially suitable for chat applications such as IRC or IM.

In some areas, GPRS might even be faster than a dial up modem. It will depend on where you live and what the line quality to the nearest tower/exchange is. If you need faster speeds, there are other technologies like EDGE, 3G and HSDPA. EDGE and 3G are usually billed at the same rate as GPRS by most providers and the setup is the same. HSDPA is new and may be more expensive, but the setup is also still the same. You just need a phone/modem that supports the newer technology.

If you're using windows, you can monitor how much bandwidth you are using with NetMeter which is freeware. There are also DU Meter and BWMeter, but they are not freeware.

Go to Prices for MTN, Cell C, Vodacom, Virgin Mobile and Dialup costs.
If you need a lot of bandwidth, go to the ADSL page for more info.

Mobile Wireless

MTN GPRS Data bundles
Bundle Bundle cost Price per MB in bundle Price per MB out of bundle 10 MB 20 MB 50 MB 100 MB 200 MB 500 MB 1024 MB 2048 MB
0 MB R0.00 R2.00 R2.00 R20.00 R40.00 R100.00 R200.00 R400.00 R1000.00 R2048.00 R4096.00
10 MB R10.00 R1.00 R2.00 R10.00 R30.00 R90.00 R190.00 R390.00 R990.00 R2038.00 R4086.00
100 MB R100.00 R1.00 R1.50 R100.00 R100.00 R100.00 R100.00 R250.00 R700.00 R1486.00 R3022.00
350 MB R220.00 R0.63 R1.50 R220.00 R220.00 R220.00 R220.00 R220.00 R445.00 R1231.00 R2767.00
1024 MB R499.00 R0.49 R1.25 R499.00 R499.00 R499.00 R499.00 R499.00 R499.00 R499.00 R1779.00

Notes:

  • These bundles are available to contract and prepaid subscribers
  • If you don't purchase a bundle, costs will be R2 per MB
  • Currently only one data bundle per month is available per sim card. It is however possible to buy another prepaid simcard and use that to get another bundle. Prepaid sim cards are currently cheap (R5). Five 10MB bundles will then cost only R50 for 50MB. But you need 5 simcards ;)
  • The costs for EDGE or 3G access are basically the same, but at much faster speeds.
Cell C GPRS Data tariffs
Tariff Option Tariff cost Price per MB 10 MB 20 MB 50 MB 100 MB 200 MB 500 MB 1024 MB 2048 MB
smartdata standard R0.00 R2.00 R20.00 R40.00 R100.00 R200.00 R400.00 R1000.00 R2048.00 R4096.00
smartdata personal R15.00 R1.75 R32.50 R50.00 R102.50 R190.00 R365.00 R890.00 R1807.00 R3599.00
smartdata professional R60.00 R1.55 R75.50 R91.00 R137.50 R215.00 R370.00 R835.00 R1647.20 R3234.40

Notes:

  • These tariff options are only available to contract subscribers
  • Prepaid subscribers... ?
Vodacom GPRS Data bundles
Bundle Bundle cost Price per MB in bundle Price per MB out of bundle 20 MB 75 MB 150 MB 250 MB 500 MB 1024 MB 2048 MB
0 MB R0.00 R2.00 R2.00 R40.00 R150.00 R300.00 R500.00 R1000.00 R2048.00 R4096.00
20 MB R35.00 R1.75 R2.00 R35.00 R145.00 R295.00 R495.00 R995.00 R2043.00 R4091.00
75 MB R110.00 R1.47 R2.00 R110.00 R110.00 R260.00 R460.00 R960.00 R2008.00 R4056.00
150 MB R149.00 R0.99 R2.00 R149.00 R149.00 R149.00 R349.00 R849.00 R1897.00 R3945.00
250 MB R200.00 R0.80 R2.00 R200.00 R200.00 R200.00 R200.00 R700.00 R1748.00 R3796.00
500 MB R350.00 R0.70 R2.00 R350.00 R350.00 R350.00 R350.00 R350.00 R1398.00 R3446.00
1000 MB R599.00 R0.60 R2.00 R599.00 R599.00 R599.00 R599.00 R599.00 R647.00 R2695.00
2000 MB R1198.00 R0.60 R2.00 R1294.00 R1294.00 R1294.00 R1294.00 R1294.00 R1294.00 R1294.00

Notes:

  • These bundles are only available to contract subscribers
  • Prepaid and Top Up subscriber costs are R2 per MB
  • The costs for EDGE or 3G access are basically the same, but at much faster speeds.
 

Pro's:

Con's:

56k Dialup

Telkom Call charges
Monthly subscription Min Charge Cost per minute 10 min 20 min 30 min
Peak time R79.001 R0.59 R0.38 R3.80 R7.61 R11.41
CallMore R79.001 R0.59 R0.16 R1.60 R3.20 R4.81

1 Telkom ISP Internet account. There are other cheaper ISP accounts available.



If you connect 15 times per month
10 min sessions 20 min sessions 30 min sessions
150 min 300 min 450 min
Peak time R136.06 R193.12 R250.18
CallMore R103.03 R127.06 R151.09

If you connect 30 times per month
10 min sessions 20 min sessions 30 min sessions
300 min 600 min 900 min
Peak time R193.12 R307.24 R421.36
CallMore R127.06 R175.12 R223.18

Notes:

  • These are only estimated costs. Your time online will obviously be different ;)
  • The costs include the R79 Telkom ISP Internet charge. Your own ISP charges may be different. For some cheaper ISP's look at the Hellkom site.
  • Monthly telephone rental of R92.28 is not included.
  • Prepaid phones have slightly more expensive call charges.
  • You can get the InfinitCall plan for R62.05. Domestic calls (not cellphone calls) will then have a price cap at R9.85 per call. This is a good option if you have to use a normal dial up modem and mostly work after business hours.

Pro's:

Con's:

Your comments and corrections are welcome.

You can also get more information and help at the mybroadband / myADSL website and forums.