The Vodacom mobile network

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Vodacom is a South African mobile network operator which started operating in 1994 in South Africa. The Vodacom mobile network is a technology-enabled business that uses its vast mobile network coverage to provide mobile data and voice services, and its brand recognition provides to its enterprise customers with converged services such as digital financial services, IoT, and enterprise IT.

The Vodacom Group describes itself as a digital company, and owing to its current offerings in 2022 this is essentially true. They are no longer “just” a cellular network operator, but have now developed into a truly digital services company that offers a lot more than what Alan Knott-Craig had envisioned back in 1993, we can imagine.

How did Vodacom come about?

Vodacom is a mobile network operator that started offering its service of enabling customers to make calls over its cellphone network. It was started by the South African state-owned company, Telkom, Vodafone, and other investors. Its first CEO was one of Telkom’s senior managers Alan Knott-Craig back in 1993 when it was one of two cellular companies to win a license to operate a cellular network in South Africa. It started connecting its first customers to its cellular network in 1994.

Over the years Vodacom added the emerging cellular technologies of Short Message Service (SMS) and mobile internet. These services are now a core part of their business.  It also introduced to the world the technologies of pre-paid cellphone credit, and the innovative “please call me” feature to its network.

Vodacom is essentially a purveyor of cellphones through their fixed-term contracts. They had introduced a 24-month payment contract as a clever way to reduce the barrier to owning a cellphone (which was expensive at that time) for the majority of South Africans by helping them pay off their cellphones over a period of two years.

The Vodacom Group owns the Vodacom South Africa mobile network. The international mobile network company Vodafone owns most of the Vodacom Group’s shares at 60.5% as of November 2021. But in 2011, a few years after they had acquired majority shareholding, Vodacom changed its much-known blue “Yebo Gogo!” logo to the mundane and boring red Vodafone logo!

The Vodacom logo, which was upgraded after the Vodafone takeover.
The Vodacom logo was upgraded after the Vodafone takeover. Image source:

The South African-based Vodacom Group also has stakes in telcos in continental Africa and includes Vodacom Lesotho, Vodacom Tanzania, Vodacom Congo, Vodacom Mozambique, and Safaricom. It also owns Vodacom Business Africa Nigeria. Vodacom has over 130 million users over these networks and the services they provide.

Showing its dedication to innovation and technology Vodacom launched what it called the first live 5G service in Africa by switching on twenty 5G sites in Pretoria, Johannesburg, and Cape Town.

Where are they headed?

The Vodacom Vision 2025 strategy is called “A leading African TechCo with a clear system of advantage.” We see it as Vodacom always striving to be the leading telecommunications company in Africa. By mixing telecommunications infrastructure, digital financial services (fintech), and focused service to enterprises and consumers, Vodacom believes it is ready to respond to any changes in the industry.

Digital financial services

The VodaPay and M-Pesa platforms lead Vodacom’s fintech platforms in Africa. M-Pesa is one of Africa’s leading digital wallets/mobile money services with more than 50 million monthly users per month. Its biggest markets are in DRC, Kenya, and Tanzania.

In 2021 the Vodafone group launched the M-Pesa super app which adds new services that can be paid for by the money in the digital wallet. This is similar to what VodaPay is in South Africa – A digital wallet can be used to store money and make purchases.

Vodacom Business

To leverage their existing telecommunications technologies and infrastructure Vodacom provides ICT services to universities, government, and businesses. These are known as converged technology services.

These include:

  • Business Internet
  • Unified communications
  • Mobile and voice
  • Managed network services
  • Cloud, hosting, and security
  • Internet of things
  • Digital Government Solutions
  • Remote office
  • SME Business tools like MS Office

Promotions and loyalty programs

Vodacom has put an effort to always have its customer base in mind. The Just4U program has personalized offerings for its customers. Vodacom prides itself on developing these offerings through the use of big data and other Artificial Intelligence methods.

The Just4U program has personalized data and voice deals based on a user’s location and behavior. If they like data more than voice deals then they will be shown more data deals that suit them, based on their own individual usage.

The loyalty program VodaBucks rewards Vodacom customers for their loyalty, and more importantly, they gain points by recharging with airtime and data.

How is Vodacom rated for its service?

As one would expect, customers are often more vocal when things are going wrong than when they are right. So the larger number of negative reviews may create a negative perception about its customer service. But through its different communication channels, Vodacom is able to stay on top of customer queries.

Vodacom customer service

The Vodacom customer complaints on Hello Peter average a one-star on the website out of about 99k reviews as of writing this article. The Vodacom Facebook account managers are also answering service comments more than engaging in the various promotions.

But with a huge call center Vodacom’s customer care agents can attend to and assist its clients with their queries in a timely fashion.

The different Vodacom self-service tools

Typically you can contact Vodacom customer care to assist you with your queries, but they have made a real effort to reduce the number of calls into their call centers by giving their users some self-help tools.

Vodacom’s self-help tools include:

  • 135 customer care line: A voice prompt service, it helps you to manage your Vodacom account by taking you through its voice prompts to find exactly the service you need.
  • The Vodacom app: An app that lets you create an account, connect it to your different Vodacom cellphone numbers and then manage all aspects of your account, including upgrading your contract.
  • USSD codes: Dial the different USSD codes to find out your balances, buy airtime, and your other credit queries.
  • The ToBi bot is a great addition to the self-service tools by adding AI functionality to the Vodacom app and the 135 line. We found the ToBi bot useful when we wanted to cancel Vodacom subscription services.

To download the Vodacom app for your Huawei follow click here.

Vodacom services and products

Vodacom offers contract plans, pre-paid plans, and top-up packages. These are offered over sim-only deals, contract phones over 2 years (or 3 years as some iPhone deals are now structured), pre-paid phones you buy for cash, and contract phone + sim + airtime + top-up capability amongst other variations.

Cellphone and data contracts

Cellphone and mobile data contracts may be considered Vodacom’s bread and butter. They sell cellphone contracts through their sales channels which include the online store, physical stores like Vodashop and Chatz Connect, and through its call center. Its plans have inclusive value, which may have voice minutes, mobile data, and SMSes.

With the demand for mobile data, there is an ever-increasing competition to offer well-priced mobile data contracts. Vodacom has extensive home LTE network coverage, with more and more sites being added to the extremely fast 5G network.

Screenshot: An example of Vodacom's Home LTE network coverage.
Screenshot: An example of Vodacom’s Home LTE network coverage. Source:

Cellular network products

As part of its complementary cellular products Vodacom has introduced:

  • In-store cellphone repairs and technical expertise services. Mostly found in Vodashops or Voda World, you can bring in your phone or tablet for some technical assistance.
  • An email service called Vodamail was added as a complementary product to its mobile data service when it introduced its 3G technology. Vodamail still works, surprisingly! You can still access it, although technical support for Vodamail is not the best Vodacom could do.
  • Internet Connectivity through Fibre, 5G/4G/3G, and LTE (3G routers) / Wi-Fi (home routers).

Vodacom deals and promotions

Vodacom produces a monthly catalogue with that month’s deals and promotions. This promotions booklet often includes cellphones deals, routers packages, sim-only deals, tablets and data deals, and laptop bundles.

Cellphone deals – customers can upgrade their current contract, or start a new contract, to get a new cellphone. We are seeing 2-for-1 cellphone deals lately, where subscribers can get two identical cellphones but pay for one contract.

Router packages – Since the advent of 5G Vodacom’s router deals have been expanded to include 5G and LTE routers. The deals are inclusive of mobile data or home internet data.

SIM-only deals – Some users already have a dual-SIM phone or a router and so are in need of only a SIM card that is bundled with data. Vodacom has also taken notice of how its subscribers use SIM-only deals and are working to ensure they have good data-only products that retain subscribers on their network.

Tablet and data deals – Tablets like the iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 are popular with parents who buy them for their kids. Vodacom will often then have a promotional combo that features a tablet and data bundle.

Laptop deals – Being able to sell a data package bundled with a laptop is a great move. This is a case of how Vodacom found synergies around its core service and took steps to build up a new service around. Popular among consumers who get a stipend, like students, the deal allows you to pay off a laptop and data combo deal over 24 months.

Other non-core services

  • Payment solutions using their Vodapay App, through which you can buy data or electricity, pay accounts like municipal accounts, and shop online by using their QR code scanner
  • Vodacom Financial Services offers Insurance for your device, funeral cover, VodaSure as a health medical service, and legal cover
  • eSchools is probably my favorite offering because this is a real need in our poor communities. It might not be a paid service but because it is free we will note it as part of Vodacom’s services
  • Accessibility and additions to other products such as Spotify, Showmax, and Amazon Prime Video. Vodacom would allow these services to be added to your account, so Vodacom collects fees due to them on their behalf
  • Business services that use Vodacom’s network for ICT, homework solutions, business bundles (laptops, routers, plus phone deals), business tools such as security and SME support tools, and other business tools that a small business might want to outsource

The most important Vodacom customer service numbers

Vodacom South Africa’s Social Media

You’re able to communicate with Vodacom South Africa on their social media platforms to make enquiries or even conclude transactions by chatting with an agent on their social media pages:

Subscriber Collections office hours:

  • Mon to Fri – 8am to 5pm
  • Saturdays – 8am to 1pm
  • Sundays – 9am to 1pm, , but Vodacom shops at malls open at 9am till late
  • Public Holidays – Closed

Vodacom Shop Office Hours

Monday to Friday: 9 am – 6 pm
Saturday: 9 am – 1 pm
Sunday: Closed

Vodaworld Office Hours

Monday to Friday: 08h30 – 17h30
Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm
Public Holiday: 9 am – 2 pm
Sunday: Closed

Vodacom Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Who is the current Vodacom CEO?

A: The current CEO in 2024 is Shameel Joosub. He has been Vodacom’s CEO since 2012.

Moemedi Segoje

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