How to Get Mobile Internet in South Africa for Travelers: What Option to Choose?

Mobile Internet in South Africa is of equal interest to other countries because this country has been increasingly attracting tourists.. The information will be updated soon.

International tourists always want to update information with their families. Therefore, mobile internet in South Africa is of great concern. In this article, Gigago will provide information about coverage area and whether or not access speed is guaranteed in South Africa to help visitors have a more objective perspective. Please refer to the article below.

I. Mobile Internet in South Africa – Coverage and Speed

Coverage and access speed are the biggest concerns of users among the issues surrounding mobile Internet use in South Africa, specifically as follows:

1. South Africa Mobile Internet Coverage

Vodacom's leading South African coverage
Vodacom’s leading South African coverage

In an increasingly developing country like South Africa, mobile network coverage is also growing and spreading continuously. Specifically, major network operators covering South Africa are as follows:

  • Vodacom coverage

Vodacom is South Africa’s largest network operator and is half-owned by Vodafone. It can be said that this is the network operator with the widest coverage area among all network operators in South Africa. Currently, the 5G network is also covered in many places.

  • MTN coverage

MTN is a major telecommunications services company, Vodacom’s leading competitor in South Africa because of its nearly identical coverage and speeds. MTN’s 4G/LTE network was just launched in 2014 but by 2018 it had covered 90% of the country’s population. This carrier’s 5G network also covers many places, especially in big cities.

MTN has the same coverage as Vodacom
MTN has the same coverage as Vodacom
  • Cell C coverage

Cell C is the third largest network operator in South Africa, coverage is not less than 98% nationwide. However, it still has certain gaps when not fully covered. Gauteng and Durban were the first two areas to receive 4G/LTE coverage and later widespread coverage in other central areas of the country. Currently, this network almost does not have 5G coverage.

Cell C coverage is quite wide but not completely covered
Cell C coverage is quite wide but not completely covered
  • Telkom coverage

Telkom is ranked as the 4th network operator nationwide due to its rather limited coverage area. Although limited in coverage area, Telkom is roaming on MTN’s 2G and 3G networks and the 2G network ended at the end of 2019. Telkom also has a stronger advantage than Cell C when it has 5G network coverage in some major cities.

Telkom has been gradually rolling out 5G
Telkom has been gradually rolling out 5G

2. South Africa Mobile Internet Speed

Access speeds of major network operators in South Africa are as follows:

CriteriaAverage speed
Fixed broadband download speeds34.19 Mbps
Mobile download speed31.11 Mbps
4G availability86.5%

Our recommendation: Vodacom and MTN are the two network operators with the best coverage and access speed in South Africa. Therefore, it is best for tourists to refer to 1 of these 2 network operators to have a good experience.

Access speed in South Africa
Access speed in South Africa

II. What are Connectivity Options for Tourists to South Africa?

Mobile internet in South Africa is used in many different ways, which can be said to be as diverse as any other developed country. Here are the options for you:

Connection typeProsCons
Public wifiInexpensiveDon’t waste time buyingUse anywhereConnection is not guaranteedRisk of transmission being attackedRisk of information and device data being stolenNot every place has free wifi.
SIM cards South AfricaEasy to buy both in person and onlineMaintain stable accessMany options for data packages in the form of roaming packages, tourist packages, local packages,…Get connected as soon as you arrive in South Africa.The SIM needs to be removed because it is a physical SIM cardNeeds activation to use.
South Africa eSIMSave time buying and receivingDoesn’t take up space on the device’s slotMaybe your phone is not compatibleNeed to check your phone’s eSIM support featureThe maximum access speed of a SIM card may not be achieved.
Data roaming with operator in South AfricaConnect anywhere within your carrier’s coverage area without needing to buy a new SIM cardKeep your personal phone number intact to receive information such as bank OTP when making paymentRoaming costs are high and it is not certain whether it includes calling and SMS texting or whether you need to pay extra when doing so.Roaming costs for each network operator are different and constantly changing.It is unlikely that the local operator has an agreement with the South African operator.
Pocket wifiNo need to disassemble anything on the phoneCompact, easy to put in your pocket and carry with you.It only makes sense and works best when you travel to South Africa in a group or with the whole family.Make sure connected devices are only within 10 meters for the best connection.If you lose it, you will have to pay the landlord.There is a limit to battery usage.

Our recommendation: SIM cards have been a traditional choice for a long time but still retain their leading strength when optimizing almost every criterion from cost to purchasing method. However, it still needs a slot on the phone. Better yet, if your phone is compatible with eSIM, refer to eSIM to eliminate the disadvantages of SIM cards.

South African SIM cards are the optimal choice
South African SIM cards are the optimal choice

Pro tips:

III. Internet Rates in South Africa

Among the reference information on internet usage, cost is the information of primary concern. Below are reference costs:

South Africa SIM cardsFrom 1 ZAR ($0.05 USD) to 20 ZAR ($1.08 USD) for a basic SIM card
eSIM South Africafrom 92 ZAR ($5 USD) to 535 SEK ($28.9 USD)
Roaming with Vodacom199 ZAR ($10.67 USD), 549 ZAR ($29.43 USD)
Roaming with MTNfrom 29 ZAR ($1.55 US) to 179 ZAR ($9.6 USD)
Roaming with TelkomStarting 1.9 ZAR ($0.1 USD) per MB data
Pocket wifiabout 148 ZAR ($8 USD) per day
Public wifiFree

Note: Costs are not fixed and may change over time, you need to check specifically before purchasing through the service provider.

eSIM is the perfect choice for those who love electronic SIM
eSIM is the perfect choice for those who love electronic SIM

Compared to the services provided, the cost of SIM and eSIM cards is the most stable. In particular, the larger the network operator, the better the service. Therefore, you can refer to Vodacom or MTN for a great experience.

IV. Data SIM Card for Mobile Internet in South Africa

Some data packages of prepaid SIM cards of some major network operators in South Africa:

  • Vodacom data plans:
  • 17 ZAR ($0.92 USD): 100 MB data (valid 7 days)
  • 35 ZAR ($1.89 USD): 250 MB data (valid 7 days)
  • 100 ZAR ($5.4 USD): 1 GB data (valid 14 days)
  • 699 ZAR ($38 USD): 20 GB data (valid 30 days)
  • MTN data plans:
  • 5 ZAR ($0.27 USD): 50 MB data at any time + 50 MB data per night + 8 minutes call
  • 229 ZAR ($12.36 USD): 5 GB data at any time + 5 GB data per night + 5 GB data for media + 300 minutes call
  • 999 ZAR ($54 USD): 30 GB data at any time + 30 GB data per night + 30 GB data for media + 800 minutes call
  • Cell C data plans:
  • 4 ZAR ($0.22 USD) for 25 MB data per day
  • 100 ZAR ($5.4 USD) for 2.2 GB data (valid 5 days)
  • 399 ZAR ($21.54 USD) for 7 GB data (valid 30 days)
  • Telkom data plans:
  • 100 ZAR ($5.4 USD): 1 GB data at any time + 1 GB data per night (valid 30 days)
  • 140 ZAR ($7.56 USD): 2 GB data at any time + 2 GB data per night (valid 30 days)
  • 201 ZAR ($10.85 USD): 3 GB data at any time + 3 GB data per night (valid 30 days)
Data packages of South African carriers are very diverse
Data packages of South African carriers are very diverse

V. Data eSIM for South Africa – Best Option to Get Mobile Internet for Tourists

There are 2 ways to buy a South African eSIM: Buy from the supplier or buy directly from the network operator of that eSIM. Below are detailed advantages and disadvantages:

1. Buy eSIM from South Africa Operators

You need to know, when buying directly at the network operator’s store, you need to show your passport or ID card for the registration process. However, you can also refer to it. Compare eSIM between operators providing networks in South Africa:

CriteriaVodacomCell CTelkom
DataFrom 1 GB data to 100 GB data per monthFrom 1 GB data to 5 GB dataFrom 1 GB data to 50 GB data
Cost99 ZAR ($5.35 USD) per 1GB data109 ZAR ($5.88 USD); 199 ZAR ($10.74 USD)129 ZAR ($7 USD); 749 ZAR ($40.44 USD)
Network coverage99% of the population98% of the populationWide coverage
ValidFrom 7 days to 30 daysDepends on data packageUp to 1 month

2. Buy eSIM from Gigago

To avoid the risk of personal documents being exposed, especially without wasting time checking documents, you can completely buy online through the eSIM provider. One of the reputable eSIM providers on the market is Gigago, where there are many eSIMs from many countries and certainly South African eSIMs are indispensable.

Gigago offers South African eSIM with a variety of data plan options
Gigago offers South African eSIM with a variety of data plan options

If you have a short trip and have a balanced budget, you should consider the eSIM package with 1 GB data for 93 ZAR ($5 USD). In addition, Gigago also offers a South African eSIM package of up to 10 GB of data with 30-day validity for only 535 ZAR ($28.9 USD). Data packages include high speeds from 1 GB to 10 GB.


What is a global international 4G SIM?

International 4G SIM is an internet product that helps travelers stay connected to social networking sites. There are 2 types of cards for global data SIM, including eSIM and physical SIM.

How to know if your device supports eSIM or not?

How to check eSIM for Android operating system: go to Settings u0026gt; Connection u0026gt; if there is ADD ESIM u0026gt; it means the device supports eSIM
How to check eSIM for IOS operating system: Go to Settings u0026gt; Mobile u0026gt; if there is ADD CELLULAR PLAN (ADD CELLULAR PLAN – ADD ESIM) u0026gt; it means the device supports eSIM

How do I access the Internet once I arrive?

When you arrive at the tourist destination, insert the SIM into your mobile phone. Next, turn on Mobile Data and International Roaming and wait a few minutes, the network will automatically be selected.

VII. Conclusion

Mobile internet in South Africa is information you need to know and at least you need to find out some necessary information before coming to this country. The Internet helps you have a better experience during your trip, and can also update the situation back home.If your device supports eSIM, Gigago always offers preferential eSIM activation support for you.