Shock as MTN hikes WhatsApp bundle price by 200{1f0bb132e08ca1f8565add86e1f8740171c75f84ed80bad4a750114913f392ef} with immediate effect

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Just three months after introducing a low-cost, 1GB WhatsApp data bundle costing only R10, MTN South Africa has hiked the price — for many users, at least — by 200{1f0bb132e08ca1f8565add86e1f8740171c75f84ed80bad4a750114913f392ef}.

Introduced in April, MTN said the price increase had become necessary because of the strain the deal had put on the company’s network. The new pricing is R30/bundle, though some users will continue to enjoy the R10 deal.

“The public’s response has been exceptional. WhatsApp usage on the MTN network has increased by 300{1f0bb132e08ca1f8565add86e1f8740171c75f84ed80bad4a750114913f392ef} in the past two months,” the company said in a statement on Monday. “Millions of South Africans are using WhatsApp on our network and millions more have been buying these bundles.”

MTN said the low-cost bundles had led to an “unintended consequence” — an “extraordinary increase in demand on MTN’s 3G network”. As a result, it said it will invest a further R200-million in its 3G infrastructure to accommodate the “huge spike in traffic being driven by demand for WhatsApp”.

The company said that consumer response was “exceptional”.

“WhatsApp usage on the MTN network has increased by 300{1f0bb132e08ca1f8565add86e1f8740171c75f84ed80bad4a750114913f392ef} in the past two months. Millions of South Africans are using WhatsApp on our network and millions more have been buying these bundles,” said Mapula Bodibe, Executive Consumer Business.

“An unintended consequence of this low-priced WhatsApp data has been an extraordinary increase in demand on MTN’s 3G network. MTN’s dual data strategy has seen consistent and sustained investment in both our 3G and 4G networks over the past few years to deliver a world-class network experience,” added MTN.

As a result, MTN said its WhatsApp bundle will be repriced from R10 to R30 from today, 16 July 2018.

“However, the most vulnerable South Africans that are currently spending less than R10 on WhatsApp per month will be protected. These customers, who are primarily using feature phones on our 3G network, will still pay just R10 a month for their WhatsApp access which will be offered to them via MTN’s *142# menu on MyMTNOffers.”

MTN said to protect the quality of its 3G network, it had to make this decision.

Twitter
MTN also touched in its customers’ Twitter usage, and stated it will continue offering its “hugely popular” Free Twitter service.

“A review of customer usage has revealed that 99.1{1f0bb132e08ca1f8565add86e1f8740171c75f84ed80bad4a750114913f392ef} of all Twitter users on MTN are using substantially less than 500MB every day. Of all the users, 80{1f0bb132e08ca1f8565add86e1f8740171c75f84ed80bad4a750114913f392ef} are using no more than 10MB of Twitter data per day,” said MTN.

“We’re seeing a very small number of customers using excessive amounts of data via Twitter and those people will be the only ones affected by a cap of 500MB per day,” said Bodibe.

In the limited instances of excessive use, MTN said it is clear the Free Twitter IP is being hacked to stream IPs that are not free.

“We are seeing huge files and videos being transferred, resulting in excessive usage. Our focus is to protect the network experience of millions of customers who engage with this service.”


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