South Africa’s uncapped home fibre and prepaid mobile data prices stack up reasonably well against some of the world’s bigger economies, a MyBroadband analysis has shown.

These included two other African nations with growing fibre connectivity and well-established mobile networks, and seven international destinations popular with South African expats and travellers.

For our first comparison, we looked at fibre prices.

We used the price of a home fibre package with a 50Mbps download speed from the most popular ISPs and biggest fibre network operators in these countries.

Except for Kenya, where we used a 40Mbps line as this was the nearest comparable speed available.

We then divided the prices by the maximum bandwidth to obtain a cost per Mbps, allowing a straightforward comparison.

Our findings showed that South Africa was the fifth cheapest out of the ten sampled countries, at R18 per Mbps.

The country edged out Canada, Kenya, and Australia, each with prices just over R20 per Mbps.

The cheapest in our comparison turned out to be the Netherlands, at R11 per Mbps, closely followed by the UK on R13 per Mbps and the US with R14 per Mbps.

The graph below shows how the prices per Mbps stacked up between the countries we considered.

For the mobile data comparison, we decided to only use the prices of prepaid data bundles from the largest mobile networks in each country, with 1GB being the targeted allocation.

In cases where we could not find a 1GB bundle, we used the nearest bundle by size and divided this to get a per GB price.

Notably, our comparison found that small prepaid mobile data bundles were substantially cheaper in Africa per gigabyte than overseas.

In Nigeria, where MTN is the biggest operator, a 1.5GB bundle costs 1,000 nairas (R38.48), working out to about R26 per GB, making the country the cheapest market among those we analysed.

Kenya’s Vodacom-owned Safaricom was also very affordable, with a 2GB data bundle costing 500 Kenyan shillings (R71), working out to just over R35 per GB.

South Africa was significantly more expensive than these two countries, with Vodacom charging R85 for a 1GB prepaid data bundle.

However, it was a long way off the prices of developed countries in other parts of the world.

AT&T in the US, for example, charges $10 (R160) for a 1GB add-on bundle to most of its prepaid plans.

Those looking to buy a prepaid 1GB data bundle in Canada have it even worse, however, at CA$30 (R378) for a 1GB add-on bundle on Bell’s network.

However, it should be emphasised that many of the operators surveyed outside Africa had unlimited data SIMs that offered better value for money than most capped offers, often with allocations of voice minutes and SMS messages included.

For example, in the US, AT&T provides an Unlimited Starter Plan for $35 (R560) per month, including unlimited voice, SMS, and data. The allocations are also valid in Mexico and Canada.

In South Africa, Rain offers an uncapped 4G SIM for mobile phones at R299 per month, excluding voice minutes and SMS.

Now read: What happened with South Africa’s fibre rollouts in 2021

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