Read the small print: Why MTN’s international rates promotion isn’t Ayoba

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This morning MTN blasted out a press release to all and sundry titled “MTN introduces lowest international call rates”. In it, MTN states that as a result of increasing financial constraints they are “boldly bring(ing) products that seek to address customers’ needs for affordable value” specifically introducing “the lowest international call rates to key African destinations (Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Nigeria, Lesotho and Swaziland) from as little as R0,75c per minute.”

The highlighted portion of that sentence is the important part because only 1 of those listed countries (Nigeria) has a call rate of R0.75/minute according to the MTN website. Calls to Lesotho and Mozambique are R1,59/minute, calls to Swaziland R1,69/minute and Zimbabwe leads the pack with the low, low rate of only R3,89/minute. MTN has confirmed that the process listed on the website are current and reflects the current promotion which ends on the 30th of September. A promotional rate that’s R3.89/minute? I hope to never have to call Zimbabwe outside of the promotional rate.

Maybe I’m being too harsh on MTN, from a cursory glance at both Vodacom and Cell C’s call rates (see table below), MTN are definitely the cheapest on offer, but once again, it’s only for another 2 weeks.

 MTN  Cell C  Vodacom
Nigeria  R 0.75  R 0.99  R 0.89
Lesotho  R 1.59  R 2.99  R 1.79
Mozambique  R 1.59  R 1.99  R 1.79
Swaziland  R 1.69  R 1.99  R 1.79
Zimbabwe  R 3.89  R 5.59  R3.90 – R5.50


The question is why MTN thinks that a low call rate to Nigeria warrants our attention? The fact that MTN is one of the dominant networks in Nigeria means that it can terminate the call to itself before routing it on to other networks which eliminates the need for expensive roaming agreements that are the basis for some of  the insane call rates that we see to international destinations. With the massive footprint that MTN has in Africa why haven’t they created a blanket rate for calls to the continent in much the same way that Cell C did with its call rates to 51 countries at R0.99 /minute, now that would have saved people money, not the rates they promoted today.

Source: MTN, TechCentral

David Greenway

David Greenway

David is a technology enthusiast with an insatiable thirst for information. He tends to get excited over new hardware and will often be the one in the room going "Its got 17 cores, 64GB of RAM and a 5" 4K flexible OLED display, oh it makes phone calls too?" Currently uses: Too many phones. Wants: World peace... and more phones.