How do I get a mobile phone?
It is very easy to get hold of a sim here. For a pay as you go sim all you need is some photo ID and proof of address (a rental agreement will suffice). For non South Africans this should be your passport as the phone shops often don’t recognize a foreign drivers licence.
Mobile phone calls are expensive here. Data costs are still very high but are gradually coming down. Data packages are available for prepaid customers as well as contract users, which can make data more affordable.
Mobile phones are called “cell phones” here and when you top up your prepaid phone ask for “airtime”!
The main operators are Vodacom, MTN, Cell C & Telkom mobile. It’s worth shopping around as there are usually some good deals. Telkom mobile & Cell C tend to be the cheapest.
As an expat you can get a contract but you would need to go through a longer registration process and provide more documentation including proof of address, passport & visa etc.
Landlines & Internet
The only provider of residential landlines in South Africa is Telkom. They are a typically bureaucratic organization and the process of getting a landline can be slow and frustrating. However, with much better internet options available it is easy to manage all your communications via mobile (“cell”) and international calls using Skype, Whats App or FaceTime.
To get a landline you will need to visit a Telkom shop with original ID (a passport with visa for foreign nationals), a copy of a lease and whatever else the lady behind the desk decides to ask you for that day! The connection fee is approximately R800. A landline costs approximately R150 per month with call costs on top, though there are calls inclusive packages available.
For internet, there really is quite a lot of choice and the market is really competitive now. You just need to contact one of the many ISP’s who will provide you with all the infrastructure, choice of line speed and data bundle. Some of the more well known ISP’s are Webafrica, MWeb, Vox Telecom, Internet Solutions & Afrihost but there are many more available.
Fibre is now here and rolling out across South Africa. There are a number of service providers (as listed above) who can help you get connected to Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH). This market is fiercely competitive, so make sure you shop around to get the best deals. You do not have to lock yourself into a long term contract as most of the service providers offer a month-to-month service, with 30 days notice to terminate, should you wish.