WhatsApp with this data price hike, MTN?

A worker attends to a customer at an MTN shop at mall in Johannesburg, South Africa, March 2, 2017.
A worker attends to a customer at an MTN shop at mall in Johannesburg, South Africa, March 2, 2017.
Image: Siphiwe Sibeko/REUTERS

MTN customers are set to pay 200% more for their monthly WhatsApp data bundle.

The mobile network company hiked the bundle price from R10 to R30 after "an overwhelming usage".

MTN introduced different social media bundles in April which included a monthly 1GB WhatsApp bundle at the cost of R10. Three months later, MTN increased the price by 200%.

"Millions of South Africans are using WhatsApp on our network and many more are buying these bundles," said MTN's executive consumer business Mapula Bodibe.

"An unintended consequence of this cheap WhatsApp data has been an extraordinary increase in demand on MTN's 3G network."

But the price increase, according to Bodibe, will only affect 4G (LTE) enabled handsets.

Customers with handsets that only support 2G and 3G - which according to MTN are mostly the vulnerable users in rural areas - won't be affected.

"We want to continue to offer affordable data access through WhatsApp bundles to this group, who need to communicate but who can least afford it," said Bodibe.

The announcement was met with a lot of dismay on social media with people threating to leave the network.

Others went as far as accusing MTN of taking advantage of people.

"Don't take advantage of people. We're fighting for the price of data to decrease you want to increase it," tweeted Mzwandile Sibinda.

Communications authority ICASA's current regulations do not deal with exact data prices. Their regulations published in May, that deal with the cost to communicate, focused on out-of-bundle rate, data transfer and data expiry.

Cell-C has since filed an interdict seeking a postponement of the implementation of the regulations.

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