How to avoid bill shock when visiting South Africa

Try using a Goodspeed with a B4IGO SIM card

katie - source: Birmingham Mail

A while back a story hit the headlines here in the UK when a holidaymaker, Katie Bryan, managed to run up a bill of £2,609.31 whilst data roaming in South Africa. It had taken her 20 minutes to download 326 megabytes in the shape of a Neil Diamond album. Here at GoMo News, we are key followers of ‘bill shock’ but this one took the biscuit. Finding out what Katie should have done instead was surprisingly difficult. As regular readers will already know, here at GoMo Towers we are keen advocates of the Goodspeed mobile Wi-fi hotspot from Uros.  Orange reduced her bill to £400. We could have reduced it to £19.60 with B4IGO.

The curious thing about this whole investigation was that it showed that opting for a popular roaming solution provider’s alternative would have been a disaster.

The company charges €25 per megabyte so Katie would have paid €8,150 (£6,714). Which makes Orange’s £400 a bargain.

We racked our brains and came up with the idea of asking Uros. Especially since this is a ‘data only’ solution to her problem.

Now Uros doesn’t have a direct agreement with any South African mobile network operator [MNO] yet but the country is classed as in its ‘extended network’.

Which means that you can plug a South African SIM card into the Goodspeed and it will work.

Goodspeed suggested trying B4IGO and we found that a data only SIM package offering 1GB of data (enough for two Neil Diamond albums) would be £19.60.

The benefit from using B4IGO (which utilises the Vodacom network) is that it has stores at the major arrival points in South Africa.

So you can meet SA government regulations by registering beforehand and then pick up the SIM on your arrival at the airport, etc.

We suggest that BlackBerry users look into B4IGo’s offerings because they have BlackBerry specific solutions which support BIS.

The alternatives to Vodacom are MTN and Cell C. GoMo discovered that Cell C has a very competitive offering @ £28 and included voice.

With Cell C you need a smartphone which supports HSPDA+ at 900 MHz – so GoMo assumes that For Brits unlocking a handset from Vodafone or O2 would do the trick.

What was very disappointing was the lack of availability of any information from Orange’s web site about the company’s Orange Horizons offering which we mentioned here.

The service is meant to help orange customers travelling to South Africa. We could find nothing to help on the web and certainly aren’t going to call ’150′ to ask.

About Tony Dennis

Tony is currently Editor of GoMobile News. He's a veteran telecoms journalist who has previously worked for major printed and online titles. Follow him on Twitter @GoMoTweet.
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