It’s said that the biggest fear one has it that of public peaking. For me, my biggest fear is not having cellular service, and not being able to connect while on the go.

So, how does one connect while in South Africa

Some quick tips to staying connected while on the go:
Phone South Africa’s country code is 27. Phone numbers within South Africa are of the format 0XX YYY ZZZZ and all the digits must be dialled – there is no abbreviated local dialling Large cities have area codes 0XX (Johannesburg is 011, Pretoria 012, Cape Town 021, Durban 031, Port Elizabeth 041, East London 043, Kimberley 053, Bloemfontein 051) while smaller towns may have longer area codes (0XX Y for example) with shorter local numbers. When dialing a South African number from outside the country, one should dial +27 XX YYY ZZZZ. Dialing within the country one should use all 10 digits, 0XX YYY ZZZZ.

mobile phone photo

Photo by believekevin

To dial out of South Africa, dial 00 followed by the country code and the rest of the number you are trying to reach. Pay phones are available at airports, shopping malls and some petrol stations. The number of pay phones in open public areas have been reduced over recent years, but you should still be able to find one when you need one. Pay phones use either coins or prepaid cards that are available at most shops and petrol stations ; coin phones are generally blue while card phones are usually green. MTN Tower in Jeffrey’s Bay GSM South Africa has an extensive GSM network, working on the same frequency as the rest of Africa and Europe.

There are five cell phone providers in South Africa: Vodacom [87], MTN [88], Cell-C [89], Virgin Mobile [90] and 8ta[91]. The networks support GPRS countrywide and 3G, EDGE and HSDPA support is available in larger urban areas. Do not assume you will not have network coverage just because you can not see a GSM tower. Many of the towers have been built to look like trees (Vodacom) or other structure (MTN) in order to better blend into the surroundings and not be an eyesore. In some rural areas, GSM towers still look like towers because of problems with animals damaging them when they look like trees. SIM card prepaid starter kits are available for around R1. You will need a passport and a proof of residential address and it has to be registered before you can call or receive calls.

If you call into a Vodacom or MTN store with a passport and drivers licence, you can be all connected on the spot. You can buy cr for prepaid phones just about everywhere, remembering you will usually need cash to do so from service stations. Internet There are plenty of Internet Cafes and access rates are cheap. Even cheaper and more mobile would be to buy a prepaid cell phone starter pack (less than R10) and access the Internet with GPRS or 3G. Generally R2 per MB for out of bundle data from most providers (50c for Virgin Mobile), but it becomes significantly cheaper if you buy a data bundle. Vodacom prices range from 38c per MB on a 500MB bundle to 19c per MB on a 1GB bundle. MTN prices range between R1 per MB on a 10MB to 39c per MB on a 1GB bundle.

Mobile data connections are always charged per MB as opposed to per second (as is popular on many European networks). ADSL1 is popular for residential use and is generally available in speeds from 2mbps to 10mbps. Due to the Telkom monopoly on last-mile infrastructure, the total cost of fixed line internet is high. On average, ADSL data is R30/GB and although uncapped internet is becoming standard, it usually is quite slow. Wi-Fi AlwaysOn seem to be leading the way in prepaid Wi-Fi access. Their hotspots can now be found at Cape Town, Durban and OR Tambo airports, City Lodge Hotels, Sun International Hotels, some Southern Sun Hotels, Mugg & Bean restaurants and various other places. Simply connect to the access point and you will be given the opportunity to pay for access by cr card. Pricing starts at around R15 for 10 minutes or R60 for 100MB. Their support desk can be contacted on +27 11 759 7300 .

Other tips on staying connected while in South Africa? Please add your comments and tips.