The main providers in Cape Town, and indeed in South Africa, are Telkom and Neotel. Until recently Telkom had the monopoly on telephone services, as a listed company in which the government is the largest shareholder. Neotel released their home phone service, a fixed-wireless product, in direct competition with Telkom’s landlines.
Neotel’s Home Phone service promises delivery and installation within 48 hours (as a fixed wireless solution, their infrastructure is much more flexible than Telkom’s landline services).
Telkom’s standard fixed-line service comes shorn of assurances. In fact, the company’s website describes its time-frame for installation as follows: “As soon as the Telkom internal processes are completed and provided that infrastructure exists, a Telkom technician will contact you to make an official appointment to install the service.” The fact that people might not have a phone on which to be contacted isn’t addressed. By all accounts, getting a Telkom line installed can take significantly longer than 48 hours.
The documents required, as with a cell phone contract, are as follows:
- A recent pay slip
- 3 months of bank statements. The idea is to prove that you have a consistent source of income, so foreign bank statments won’t do. If you’ve just been employed locally, a copy of your work contract or a letter from your employer stating your monthly salary will suffice.
- Proof of residence (Any kind of official document sent to your current address for you. Alternatively, your lease agreement would normally be considered acceptable)
- Your ID document
Neotel’s Home Phone service comes in two packages.
- In the first package, consumers purchase the phone for R599, and pay a monthly service fee of R99. There’s no contract associated with this service. A usage discount of up to R25 will also be given to users of this service. This service also provides internet access at a speed of 156 Kbps, charged at 8c per MB. This feature is targeted at the lower end of the market, as it allows for only the most basic and sluggish sort of internet access.
- The second package doesn’t require any upfront payment for the phone, and is charged at R199 per month. Users of this contract also receive 1000 free Neotel-to-Neotel minutes and 200 free SMSes per month within Neotel’s coverage area.
Billing for both of these packages is described as true per-second billing, beginning from the first second onwards. It works out to about 34 cents per minute for local landline calls during peak hours, and 17 cents for off-peak calls, so they are very affordable packages. Furthermore, if calls are made from Neotel to Neotel, there’s no differentiation between peak and off-peak times – calls are charged at 17 cents at all times.
Telkom’s voice service carries a required installation fee of R425.50, excluding the cost of the phone. Internet access isn’t included as part of the package, and local calls are charged at 39c per minute during peak times, and 19 cents during off-peak hours,
It’s interesting to note that peak-time calls from Neotel to Telkom are actually cheaper than Telkom to Telkom calls, while Telkom to Neotel calls are prohibitively expensive (charged at 65c per minute during peak time). Neotel works out cheaper in every way, the only possible downside being that its network is not yet as mature as Telkom’s, meaning there are some areas that still aren’t covered. Visit http://www.hellkom.co.za/telkom-vs-neotel-call-charges for a total price breakdown.
Both these services can be ordered by a call to the companies’ call centers. Representatives will be sent to install the lines, as well as collect appropriate documentation, unless you’d prefer to fax or e-mail it to them.
- Neotel (information desk): 011 585 0000
- Telkom: 10219
Below is a list of the main mobile service providers, along with their phone numbers and websites. You can’t sign up for a cell phone contract without visiting a store, so the URLs for their store locators are provided.
- Vodacom – Call 082 155 or visit http://www.vodacom.co.za/outlets/vodashops/find.jsp
- MTN – Call 083 1808 or visit http://www.mtn.co.za
- Cell C – Call 011 324 4000 or visit http://www.cellc.co.za
- Virgin Mobile – Cal 0860 000 181 or visit http://www.virginmobile.co.za
Prepaid offers allow you to buy your cell phone up front and purchase airtime later, with the options to pay for per second billing, SMS bundles or DATA bundles. Starter packs are very cheap, and include a SIM card, to which you load airtime thereafter.
Costs of starter packs:
- Vodacom – R 1
- MTN – 49c
- Cell C – R10
- Virgin – R20
The value of airtime varies widely according to your service provider, the service provider you’re calling, and whether you’re calling to a landline or cell phone. Visit the service provider’s website to determine the average cost per minute. You’ll probably be able to gauge fairly quickly if you use one of the cheaper vouchers. Prepaid airtime vouchers range in price (and consequent value) as follows:
- Vodacom – R 5 – R1000
- MTN – R5 – R180
- Cell C – R10 – R1000
- Virgin – R15 – R1000
As with landline services, the following documents are required in order to register for a cell phone contract:
- A recent pay slip
- 3 months of bank statements
- Proof of residence
- Your ID document
All of the following contracts include a handset, unless otherwise mentioned.
Vodacom offers 3 contract categories:
- Top Up – This contract gives you a certain amount of airtime per month. Once that airtime runs out, you can buy prepaid airtime to ‘top up’. It costs between R49 and R590 per month.
- Contract Packages – These are contracts designed for different caller profiles. They’re divided into the following categories: Talk, Business, Leisure, Messenger, Corporate and 4U. They cost between R75 and R2965.
- Blackberry – These are contracts designed specifically for Blackberry phones, and cost between R349 and R899.
MTN also offers 3 contract categories:
- Anytime – These are flat rate contracts. They cost between R50 and R1500.
- Off Peak – These contracts offer much lower off-peak call and messaging costs (Off-peak hours are between 20:00 and 05:00, as well as on weekends). They cost between R50 and R200.
- Top Up Option – Once your contract airtime has run out, you can top up with prepaid airtime. This option is available for all new MTN packages.
Cell C offers 4 contract categories:
- Controlchat – These contracts let you choose upfront how much you want to spend each month. They cost between R50 and R700.
- Casualchat – These contracts offer a choice of off-peak minutes, anytime minutes or Anytime SMSes. They cost between R115 and R130.
- Activechat – These contracts offers a choice of 100 or 220 included Anytime minutes. They cost between R250 and R399.
- Businesschat – These are packages for professionals. They cost between R185 and R1500.
Virgin offers 3 contract categories:
- Top Up Airtime Only – These contracts allow you to buy your phone upfront, and pay for your airtime by debit order. They cost between R100 and R500.
- Top Up Phone Contract Per Second – These contracts have a wide range of phone choices, and also include a set amount of airtime, with the option to top up once you run out. They cost between R99 and R599.
- Classic Phone Contract – These contracts allow you to pay for any airtime you use (over and above your baseline) by debit order at the end of the month. They cost between R100 and R800.