Internet access, buying a SIM card and WiFi while you travel in South Africa.
Are you visiting South Africa and you want to stay connected?
Let us give you some background information.
Here we give you, as Tourist and Traveler in South Africa, some background information about how internet access in this beautiful country works.
All the things you need to know about obtaining a SIM card, free Wifi, connection speed and network coverage in Cape Town and the rest of South Africa.
Firstly please keep in mind that South Africa is still far behind Europe and North America if it comes to speed, affordability and network coverage. You can see in this chart where SA ranks versus the world. The good news is that most of the main routes and all metropoles in SA are covered by mobile broadband. Therefore internet access and navigation with Google Maps or any other online routing app works well in these areas.
The mobile broadband speed
On the mobile broadband the download speed varies from under 100 Kbps(GPRS) in rural areas up to 80 Mbps (LTE) in cities depending on the coverage in your actual area. As an average you can expect +- 7 Mbps download speed.
Free Wifi in Hotels, B&B’s and Restaurants
Even though most Hotels, a lot of B&B’s and as well Restaurants offer free WiFi. However you might get disappointed.
Internet access and data is very expensive in South Africa and therefore the hospitality industry either limits the speed, amount of data or online time on their free Wifi Hotspots. The sign up process can take time and very often you have to give up personal details to gain access.
Buying a SIM card in South Africa
Of course you can buy yourself a SA SIM card and load it with data and airtime. In theory the process is relatively simple. SIM cards are available in Provider Outlets (Vodacom, MTN, CellC, Telkom) and in most Supermarkets. The price for a pre-paid SIM card ranges from 0 to 5 Rand (40 US cents).
MTN and Vodacom are the best choice since they have the best coverage all over the country. In fact the latest test report (Sept 2017) showed that Vodacom has the best performing network.
Don’t forget to ask for the specific SIM format – Standard, Mini, Micro, Nano.
However sometimes you have to be lucky to find someone competent to help you with the whole process.
Often the queues are long and the service can be slow. Therefore don’t be in hurry.
RICA – The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Act
The South African government legislation requires that all telephone cards have to be registered.
You need to present your passport to purchase a SIM card and proof of where you are staying during your time in SA.
Toping up data and airtime can be done in Outlets and Supermarkets as well. Just buy a voucher and follow the instructions.
There is rather no big difference in the cost of data and airtime between the major providers. So don’t worry too much about this.
How to check your airtime and data balances?
Vodacom: Dial *111# and follow the prompts
MTN: Dial *141*1#
Cell C: Dial *147# and select option 3
Telkom: Dial *188#
Please note that fully uncapped mobile data packages are not offered in SA.
The advantages of renting a mobile Wifi router with a local SIM card in Cape Town
- Be connected 24/7
- Avoiding the trouble to buy a SIM card
- We choose the best provider according to your itinerary
- No roaming costs
- Delivery and collection at your choosen location of choice in Cape Town
- Your spending on data is under your control
- You are available under your personal number while in SA
- Connect up to 15 devices to your own personal Wifi network
- Make voice calls via Whatsapp or Skype
- Find your way around with online maps at any time
- Top up data at any time via message or email