After Almost Half A Decade Of Free Access, MTN Will Now Charge SA Users For Twitter

Farai Mudzingwa Avatar
Twitter Tweetstorm

Remember when Econet had free Twitter in 2014 before discontinuing the promo in 2015 and then bringing it back a year later before charging for the service once and for all? Well, MTN customers in South Africa are going through a similar thing.

MTN has been offering customers free access to Twitter for the past 4 years and they have finally pulled the plug. It will take some adjusting for subscribers who had obviously become accustomed to accessing the platform for nothing.

It also comes as a surprise to many subscribers as MTN themselves had said they believed that “Twitter as a source of news, information and social updates should be kept widely accessible” back in July.

The signs were there…

That same month, there had been a foreshadowing of what was to come as MTN put a cap to the free Twiter. The cap was imposed after MTN discovered that about a 100 of its users were regularly using 600GB a day to access Twitter, which amounted to around R18 000. Twitter use was subsequently capped at 500Mb per day (which doesn’t sound too shabby once you consider that Econet subscribers get 90Mb to access Twitter).

Who’s to blame?

The sudden shift has been caused by users’ consumption of video and images. This was putting too much strain on the network and thus MTN had to close the tap. For a company that had given users free access to the service for years this statement seems like less of a PR-statement and more of a genuine concern. MTN has 13 million subscribers and apparently, they were consuming 1.9 million Gb’s of data every month. That’s a petabyte for those of you interested in that kind of detail.

Win-win for MTN?

It will be interesting to see how much money they’ll be able to make from this move as the service was obviously benefitting many people. It won’t be too easy for these people to just drop the social media services and they’ll probably end up consuming a lot more data to feed their Twitter cravings. For MTN this will probably have positive financial effects as the network operator will now make revenue from a previously free service whilst the strain on their network is undoubtedly lessened.

For the subscribers, however, today will be a sombre day…