By 20 March 2020 | Categories: news


After Vodacom and Telkom's announcements, MTN has now also announced data rate cuts after the Competition Commission’s Data Service Market Inquiry. MTN's undertakings cover the following:

  • Price reductions: All of MTN’s sub-1 GB 30-day data bundles (from R10 – R149) will be reduced by up to 50%.
  • Free data: A daily free 20 MB allocation of data to all MTN customers to send pictures, messages, video and to browse the internet, using the Ayoba app.
  • The introduction of MTN OpenTime - free access to education, health and employment websites – of up to 500 unique sites that will be accessible without data charges.
  • Enhanced data usage and tariff information for all customers, to track usage and to inform customers of their data spending habits.
  • Free access to public benefit websites:
  • Tracking personal data usage and data spend.

MTN remains in discussion with the Competition Commission, on the options to regulate these elective solutions and the implementation thereof.

The Ayoba Data Lifeline

With immediate effect, every MTN customer will receive a free 20 MB Ayoba Data Lifeline, that will be available using MTN’s instant messaging platform, Ayoba.

“MTN believes that everyone deserves the benefit of a modern connected life and that starts with connectivity. The 20 MB Ayoba Data Lifeline will ensure MTN customers are able to communicate with friends and family, every day, even when they are out of airtime. This is the equivalent of 600 MB of free data per month, every month,” says Godfrey Motsa, MTN SA CEO.

Ayoba is MTN’s instant messaging app. The app is available in isiZulu, isiXhosa, English and Afrikaans and can be used on Android devices.  From today, the Ayoba Data Lifeline will allow for instant text messaging (Ayoba Chat), the sharing of pictures, video and audio files, location and voice notes (Ayoba Media), as well as the use of Ayoba’s many news, lifestyle and entertainment channels which includes the viewing of videos (Ayoba Channels).

On 1 July, Ayoba Browsing of general websites will be made available. The service will allow MTN customers to browse the internet on websites of their choice, between midnight and 5am.

Importantly, Ayoba messages sent to a feature phone or another user without the Ayoba app, arrive at these customers as a standard SMS. The response back from an MTN customer to the smart phone arrives as an Ayoba message and the MTN customers text reply is also free.

Up to 50% price reductions

From 15 April, MTN will reduce its prices across its popular sub-1 GB monthly data bundles by up to 50%. The 1 GB monthly data bundle will decrease by 33% to R99. MTN will share the additional pricing changes and data value upgrade that will be rolled-out with these price reductions, as soon as the solutions become available to customers.

The price reductions will first become available (on April 20) via USSD and the MTN App. Due to contractual obligations with other channels such as our banking partners, physical voucher providers, point of sale in our stores and the informal trade, those channels will be rolled out from May.

 “Our commitment to driving down the cost to communicate is not new and can be seen in the significant milestones we have achieved over the past three years. These include the dropping of our out-of-bundle rate to just 29c per MB and, just in the past year, a 25% average price drop has been achieved in South Africa.

“Between February 2017 and February 2020, the effective data rate on the MTN network has declined by 76% and it is our intention to continue reducing our prices to the benefit of all our customers,” Motsa says.

MTN notes it is encourage by Government’s commitment to release much-needed spectrum in the course of this year. Motsa says there is significant urgency for the release of 4G and 5G spectrum.

“MTN has invested R50 billion in infrastructure in the past five years, as we have worked to build ourselves out of the spectrum crunch. The lack of spectrum remains one of the more significant barriers to the further reduction in pricing and we look forward to consistent price changes following the release of spectrum.”

Greater transparency on personal pricing and usage

To enhance our customer’s ability to review their data rates and their specific data usage, MTN is enabling customers to manage their data through the zero-rated MTN USSD services *136*5# or *135#, as well as on the MTN app. This service will be available to all customers and is free of charge.

Through these channels customers will be able to view their usage history and effective rate for the last five bundles purchased in the current calendar month.  MTN customers will also be presented with an option to access the most affordable bundles based on their unique usage profile as well as information on other products and services to enable them to get the best value for money.

USSD steps:

Customers will dial *136*5# or *135# free from their phone.  Customers can select the “Usage Rate” menu option where they will be presented with the following options:

Option 1: View their usage and effective rate for the last 5 bundles purchased in the current calendar month;

Option 2: View affordable bundles based on their unique usage profile; (takes you to purchase)

Zero-rating websites via MTN OpenTime

MTN states it is currently offering zero-rated access to a range of websites which include some universities, education portals and Wikipedia. These will form part of the broader public benefit website service. In April, MTN will extend the websites that will form part of the public benefit service to also include health, public universities, vocational colleges, educational resources as well as employment sites, based on terms and conditions and criteria defined by MTN and after application and approval from MTN.

MTN is already redirecting customers to a website which is free of charge whenever a customer runs out of data. This website allows them to recharge with airtime or data or apply for an airtime advance. From April, MTN will launch the OpenTime service which will enable free access to public benefit services via a link on this website.

From 1 July 2020, customers will also be able to access all public-benefit services websites via the website which will take them to the MTN OpenTime service. To gain access to public benefit service websites, customers will have to register for this service on, on the MTN OpenTime page.

MTN will offer a monthly 500 MB free data access to public benefit services websites every month, amounting to 6 GBs per year, for each of MTN SA’s 29 million customers.

All these solutions are undertaken in collaboration with national and provincial government.  Applications for zero-rating will be vetted using an online MTN OpenTime tool and the list of zero-rated websites will be displayed in those categories. MTN is making 500 URLs available for zero-rating.

 “We appreciate the discussions with the Competition Commission, as well as the engagements we have had with the Minster Stella Ndabeni-Abraham and the regulator, ICASA. We have defined a series of significant voluntary solutions, savings and value additions to our customers and we will continue to work to reduce the cost to communicate, to the benefit of all South Africans,” Motsa says. 


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