Buying Telkom SIM Cards and eSIM for Tourists in South Africa

Telkom is one of major mobile network operators in South Africa, offers both traditional SIM cards and eSIMs designed for tourists. These services provide convenient and cost-effective mobile connectivity for visitors to enjoy internet access without high roaming charges during their trip in South Africa. But, should you use Telkom services compared with other network carriers in the country? Find out the answer here. We also guide you how to get and activate Telkom SIM cards and eSIM step-by-step as a traveler.

Telkom SIM cards and eSIM for South Africa travel

I. Quick Facts about Telkom South Africa

Telkom is a South African wired and wireless telecommunications service provider, operating in more than 38 African countries. Telkom is largely state-owned and closely linked to the South African government. Here are some detailed information:

  • Full name: Telkom SA SOC Limited
  • Telkom was established on 1 October 1991 when the Department of Posts and Telecommunications was divided into Telkom and SA Post.
  • Customer service: Mobile phones, landline phones, internet, network services and data communications.
  • Products and services: Telkom ADSL, Telkom 3G and
  • Telkom milestones: 1991 – Telkom is founded with 67,667 employees; 1994 – Telkom enters into a joint venture with Vodafone and Rembrandt Group to form Vodacom Group; 1995 – Telkom launches the SAIX Internet access network platform;…
Telkom provides wired and wireless telecommuncations services
Telkom provides wired and wireless telecommunications services

II. South Africa Telkom Coverage and Speed

For tourists, coverage area and access speed are two important factors to consider when choosing a SIM/eSIM card. Below is information for you to consider:

1. Telkom coverage in South Africa

Telkom has quite wide coverage in South Africa, especially in densely populated and urban areas. Telkom’s range by specific service includes:

  • Fixed Wire Telephone Service: Traditional copper wire connections as well as new fiber optic infrastructure cover most urban and rural areas.
  • Mobile phone service: Coverage is increasingly expanding compared to previous years, 2G, 3G and 4G (LTE) networks reach many remote areas.
  • Internet Services: Internet coverage includes ADSL, fiber broadband, wireless broadband and Telkom’s mobile internet services spread across the country. Particularly, fiber optic networks are increasingly being deployed in urban areas.
Telkom is continuing to invest and expand coverage in South Africa
Telkom is continuing to invest and expand coverage in South Africa

While Telkom generally has widespread coverage, there may be some remote or sparsely populated areas where availability is limited or unavailable. Telkom has continued to invest in expanding network infrastructure to improve coverage and service quality across South Africa.

2. Telkom speed in South Africa

Telkom’s actual speed depends on location factors, connection type and subscription data plan. Optional package options, Telkom’s fiber packages range from 10 Mbps to 200 Mbps. In particular, ADSL speed ranges from 512 Kbps to 20 Mbps, VDSL speed usually ranges from 2 Mbps to 40 Mbps.

Telkom access speed in South Africa
Telkom access speed in South Africa

III. What are the Best Connectivity Options of Telkom for Travelers to South Africa?

Travelers to South Africa can choose one or several Telkom connection options from the following suggestions:

Connectivity optionsProsCons
SIM cards– Direct connection is fast and strong
– Reasonable price with many prices
– The fixed SIM card needs to be removed
– It takes a few steps to connect
Pocket wifi– No need to remove SIM
– Allows multiple devices to be connected
– Need to carry bulky
– Deposit money when renting
– Cost includes rental (or purchase) of pocket wifi and data plan
– The range of the pocket wifi transmitter is limited
Data roaming– No need to remove SIM
– Use directly on your phone
– High data roaming costs
– Not sure if your SIM provider has a contract with Telkom

From the table above, it is easy to see that buying a SIM card is the most optimal choice. It offers optimal cost, stable speed and convenience.

IV. Best Telkom SIM cards for Tourists & Cost

The cost to purchase a Telkom South Africa prepaid SIM card is approximately 0.90 SAR ($0.05 USD). Below are some data plan options offered by this network operator:

PlanService includesTimeCost
Telkom Mobile FreeMe 300MB Bundle150MB data + 75MB Whatsapp +75 MB + 50 SMS + streaming50 calls within the Telkom network.14 days29 SAR ($1.53 USD)
Telkom Mobile FreeMe 6GB package4GB+ dataStream 1GB + 1GB WhatsApp + 100 SMS +500 calls within the Telkom network + 100 calls outside the network.61 days289 SAR ($15.22 USD)

Note: Prices for Telkom South Africa prepaid SIM cards and data plans are subject to change based on time and promotions. Please contact the supplier for the most accurate information.

V. Does Telkom South Africa support eSIM?

Yes. Telkom launches eSIM support for smartphones in 2021. However, Telkom does not yet support eSIM on wearable devices and does not support online purchases. Currently, Telkom has not yet given an exact answer about the estimated time of eSIM availability on wearable devices and online eSIM reception.

eSIM from Telkom South Africa
eSIM from Telkom South Africa

If you have a compatible device, you can choose a number of other reputable telecommunications service providers to buy eSIM online. Because it offers more convenience than a physical SIM card, does not need to show personal information and can be received by QR code.

Unfortunately, Gigago currently does not provide eSIM from Telkom but from the other – Vodacom (also one of leading network carriers in South Africa). You can still enjoy fast speed, wide coverage and competitive price with Gigago’s South Africa eSIM plans.

VI. Where to buy a Telkom SIM card and eSIM?

You can buy a Telkom South Africa SIM card in the following ways:

1. Where to buy Telkom SIM for South Africa

You can buy Telkom SIM for South Africa travel upon arrival or in official stores of Telkom or at convenience, retailed stores.

1.1. Upon Arrival

Most major airports in South Africa have Telkom stores, notably Cape Town International Airport and OR Tambo International Airport. When you get to the airport, you can follow the directions of the map or airport staff to find what to buy at the store. Alternatively, you can also book in advance through the supplier and pick up at the airport.

Buy Telkom SIM cards at major airports
Buy Telkom SIM cards at major airports

1.2. Telkom store

Telkom has its own retail stores across South Africa, especially in major cities or densely populated areas, where you can buy a SIM card and get support if you have any questions. Tourists can ask local people or maps for the address. However, this method should not be applied if you do not have good foreign language skills.

Buy Telkom SIM card directly from the store
Buy Telkom SIM card directly from the store

1.3. Other authorized Telkom retail stores

Supermarkets, convenience stores and electronics stores authorized to sell Telkom SIM cards can all make it easier for travelers to get SIM cards. However, you need to carefully research the reputation of that store before buying.

Buy a Telkom SIM card from an authorized retailer
Buy a Telkom SIM card from an authorized retailer

2. Where to buy South Africa Telkom eSIM

Travelers can purchase a Telkom South Africa eSIM from an authorized SIM provider in South Africa very simply. Currently, Telkom does not have an official time for buying eSIM online. Therefore, tourists need to go to Telkom stores to buy directly. With this purchase method, customers need to prepare their passport or personal documents to complete the eSIM purchase registration.

Buy Telkom eSIM in South Africa
Buy Telkom eSIM in South Africa

VII. How to Use and Activate Telkom South Africa SIM/eSIM in South Africa?

Just like how to get and activate a Telkom SIM & eSIM South Africa, how to use it is also an issue that many tourists are concerned about. Below are specific instructions:

1. How to Use and Activate Telkom SIM Cards in South Africa?

The simple steps are as follows:

  • Locate the SIM card slot on your device and insert the SIM card
  • Power on your device and recognize the card
  • Activate the SIM card
  • Set up APN settings if the device cannot use eSIM.
  • Test your service.

2. How to Use and Activate Telkom eSIM?

Getting started with Telkom eSIM for South Africa is quite easy as follows:

  • Select eSIM if the device is compatible
  • Install eSIM
  • Activate eSIM
  • Set up eSIM on the phone device
  • Start using the eSIM once the eSIM is activated and set up

VIII. How to top up Telkom South Africa SIM/eSIM

To top up a Telkom SIM & eSIM South Africa, you can follow these steps:

  • Log in to the Telkom application on your phone
  • Navigate to ”Feed Data” on the main dashboard
  • Select product type
  • Select type and data
  • Click “Payment”
  • Select the payment method associated with your account
  • The data package was successfully purchased
Top up Telkom South Africa SIM/eSIM on the Telkom app
Top up Telkom South Africa SIM/eSIM on the Telkom app

IX. Alternatives to South Africa Telkom 

In addition to Telkom, there are also a number of major telecommunications service providers in South Africa such as MTN, Vodacom, Rain, etc. Each supplier has its own advantages and disadvantages:

  • MTN is one of the major telecommunications service providers in South Africa, with wide coverage from urban to rural areas. However, MTN’s download speed is not really stable.
  • Vodacom has coverage throughout South Africa. However, Vodacom is quite expensive and the download speed is not as good as Telkom.
  • New provider Rain enters the South African telecommunications market, focusing on innovative data mining. However, this provider only focuses on fixed LTE services.
Alternatives to Telkom South Africa
Alternatives to Telkom South Africa

X. FAQs about Telkom in South Africa

How can I activate my Telkom eSIM?

Activate eSIM by scanning the QR code provided by Telkom or entering the activation code into the settings menu on your phone device.

Do I need to remove my SIM card when receiving a Telkom SIM card?

Yes if your phone only has one SIM installed. If your phone has 2 SIM card slots, you will not need to remove it.

What types of internet connection do I have when I arrive in South Africa?

Travelers can choose SIM card, eSIM, pocket wifi, data roaming, free wifi.