Phone in South Africa
The country code of South Africa is 27.
Telephone numbers within South Africa have the format 0XX YYY ZZZZ.
Large cities have area codes of 0XX (Johannesburg is 011, Pretoria 012, Cape Town 021, Durban 031, Port Elizabeth 041, East London 043, Kimberley 053, Bloemfontein 051), while smaller cities may have longer area codes (e.g. 0XX Y) with shorter city numbers.
When dialling a South African number from outside the country, you should dial +27 XX YYY ZZZZ.
When dialling within the country, you should use all 10 digits, i.e. 0XX YYY ZZZZ.
To dial from South Africa, dial 00 followed by the country code and the rest of the number you want to reach.
Payphones are available at airports, shopping centres and some petrol stations. The number of payphones in public areas has been reduced in recent years, but you should still be able to find one if you need it. Pay phones use either coins or prepaid cards, which are available in most shops and petrol stations; pay phones are usually blue, while card phones are usually green.
GSM in South Africa
South Africa has an extensive GSM network that operates on the same frequency as the rest of Africa and Europe. There are five mobile operators in South Africa: Vodacom, MTN, Cell-C, Virgin Mobile and 8ta.
The networks support GPRS nationwide and also LTE, 3G, EDGE and HSDPA in larger urban areas.
Do not assume that you have no network coverage just because you cannot see a GSM tower. Many of the towers have been built to look like trees (Vodacom) or other structures (MTN) so that they blend in better with their surroundings and do not look like an eyesore. GSM towers still look like towers in some rural areas because when they look like trees there are problems with animals damaging them.
SIM card prepaid starter kits are available for about R1. You will need a passport and proof of residential address to be registered before you can call or receive calls. If you call a Vodacom or MTN branch with a passport and driver’s licence, you can be connected on the spot. You can buy credit for prepaid phones pretty much anywhere, although you usually need cash for it at petrol stations.
Internet in South Africa
There are many internet cafés and access rates are cheap.
Even cheaper and more mobile would be to buy a prepaid mobile phone starter package (less than R10) and go online with GPRS or 3G. Typically, most providers have bundles of data for R2 per MB (Virgin Mobile 50c), but if you buy a data bundle, it gets cheaper. Prices at Vodacom range from 38c per MB for a 500MB bundle to 19c per MB for a 1GB bundle. Prices at MTN range from R1 per MB for a 10MB to 39c per MB for a 1GB package. Mobile data connections are always charged per MB and not per second (as is common in many European networks).
Neotel offers CDMA coverage throughout major city areas with pre-paid options starting at R800 for 24GB (including USB device with data active for 12 months) or R400 for device and R0,20 per MB with purchase of top-up vouchers. Coverage is still limited, so make sure you check the coverage card first.
ADSL1 is popular for residential use and is available in speeds of 384kbit/s, 1Mbit/s and 10Mbit/s. Due to Telkom’s monopoly on last mile infrastructure, operators can simply call 384kbit/s “broadband internet” because there are almost no viable alternatives, and users are usually limited to 1GB to 3GB per month on an account. The average cost of ADSL data is R70/GB.
Wi-Fi in South Africa
AlwaysOn seems to be the pioneer in prepaid Wi-Fi access. AlwaysOn’s hotspots are now available at Cape Town, Durban and O.R. Tambo airports, City Lodge Hotels, Sun International Hotels, some Southern Sun Hotels, Mugg & Bean restaurants and various other locations.
Simply connect to the access point and you will be given the option to pay for access by credit card. Prices start at around R15 for 10 minutes or R60 for 100MB. Support can be contacted on +27 011 759-7300.