I’m often asked this question by both existing and new Stilbaai residents and the answer is not a simple one because there are several influencing factors apart from simple brand loyalty or even just plain and simple cost!
You need to test the water! In a nutshell, can you get a decent signal where you are going to use your cellphone or a data device such a modem for internet access?
Go get a SIM card for the network(s) that you would like to try before you make a commitment on network choice!
Most SIM cards cost 50c or in some cases, nothing! So, your only investment will be time!
I do not recommend asking others for advice or you’ll most often get tainted information; a classic example is “the Cell C signal is bad in Stilbaai” which is probably the biggest pile of nonsense I have ever heard! If your Cell C signal IS actually bad, it will “roam” automatically on to the VodaCom network and so you actually get a double chance being a Cell C user! I think many misconceptions like this came about from the summer season cellular network congestion of old, not unlike saying that you can never park in the Fynbos Centre, which really only holds true at peak periods in December. Test your network for yourself and even pop a few rand of airtime or data on the SIM to check quality of calls or data.
Only when you are convinced that you are ready to commit to a network do you need to make the choice or contract or pre-paid. Once again, there are other considerations to be aware of such as cost and access to support should you need it. Here, in alphabetical order is a list of networks and some pointers. Note Outlet location is really only relevant for contracts.
|Cell C||Mossel Bay||Good call prices and monthly Whatsapp Data Bundles.|
|MTN||Riversdale||Cheap data packages available from third parties such as Afrihost.|
|Telkom Mobile||Mossel Bay||Telkom Mobile roams on MTN in Stilbaai. They offer very low prices.|
|VodaCom||Stilbaai||Most expensive data prices! Local office!|
All networks offer pretty good coverage in Stilbaai but there will always be areas of poor or even no signal, the reason for this would require a thesis sized document so, please just accept it as it is - You get patchy spots!
A contract will provide you a handset up front; remember that this is not free because you’ll be paying for it over a twenty four month contract! So that “free handset” that’s worth say R1000 is actually going to cost around double that on a R99 per month contract. Ah you say, but “I get free minutes” which is true but the monetary value to the network is at best negligible. Contract also runs you into the gauntlet of (alleged) overbilling and you even have to pay for itemised accounts to find out what you are actually paying for!
Pre-paid offers almost the ultimate in control on spending. Progressive networks like Cell C are offering unlimited Whatsapp data for R7.50 per month (excludes voice calling) and you get the double chance of getting network coverage on either Cell C or VodaCom towers, they also offer very competitive local and international calling rates. A drawback on Cell C pre-paid is no international roaming should travel you outside of Africa but this is probably not an issue for most people. Telkom Mobile offer some incredible call and data prices but two things to keep in mind, it can take a while for your handset to find a signal in Stilbaai as a search will be made for a Telkom Mobile tower before it roams onto MTN. Also when buying data on Telkom Mobile you MUST buy only National Data bundles this is because the really cheap Telkom Mobile bundles only work on Telkom Mobile Towers!
Both MTN and VodaCom are much higher on call costs, for example an international SMS on VodaCom costs 4c more than a one minute phone call to the United Kingdom on Cell C!
For many Stilbaai residents, they get a hand-me-down smartphone that they can use for all of their cellular needs. In most cases switching to Cell C and using the R7.50 per month Whatsapp bundle is going to save cash immediately but you’ll also need to add a monthly data bundle of say 100MB for R19 to cover other data needs and you are on a good deal. Calls from Cell C cost between 79c and 99c per minute.
If you are currently on pre-paid, you can move your existing cell number between networks, technically it’s called “porting” and this can be done every two months, so if you do move and are not happy, then you can always move back or to yet another network. On contract however, you can only do this once your contract period expires. Customers who are on contracts that have run their twenty four month period can elect to move their number to pre-paid if they so wish and this is a great idea if you have a reliable handset and want to save a few rands…
Sadly, if you only get reliable signals from one network, then your hands are tied. However, should you find that you get one network at home but another (cheaper) network at work, then it is worth keeping in mind that dual SIM handset from mainstream manufactures are now becoming quite common and these offer dual monitoring for calls and nominated SIM for data.
My own cellular setup is a business line on Cell C and a private number on MTN with the addition of 500MB of data on the MTN number provided by Afrihost for just R29 per month. I look on this as not so much saving money, which of course it is but more not keeping an overpaid CEO on the golf course with their gold plated gold clubs!
Image: Courtesy MyBroadband.co.za