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FNB Connect — What South Africa’s biggest MVNO offers

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First National Bank has been offering its own mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) called FNB Connect since June 2015.

The MVNO amassed 100,000 SIM activations only five months after its launch, which grew to 832,700 by the end of FNB’s 2020/2021 financial year.

To be eligible to buy the operator’s products, a potential subscriber must be 18 years or older and hold a transactional account with FNB.

At launch, FNB Connect offered a conservative range of 10 contracts with prices ranging from R30 to R1,000 per month.

Among these was its Flexi, which lets subscribers customise how many voice minutes, data, and SMS messages they need.

FNB has expanded its selection of contracts to 33 options, including the Flexi plan.

Its contract categories include Lifestyle and Data-only plans. Lifestyle plans bundle minutes, data, and SMS messages.

FNB Connect packages can be taken up through the bank’s website or mobile banking app. SIM cards and devices are delivered to the subscriber.

One of FNB Connect’s distinctive products is its Talk Max service, which offers unlimited voice minutes to up to 120 unique numbers every month, provided that 15% of the user’s calls are incoming.

FNB Connect has also expanded its offering of devices to include a range of large appliances and electronics.

It sells smartphones, laptops, tablets, monitors, TVs, gaming consoles, smartwatches, headphones, printers, and other electronic accessories.

Initially, the bank offered devices separately from the mobile plans, but the latest offerings bundle them with a contract, TopUp, or prepaid SIM.

The operator also recently launched Hero Deals, special offers that provide substantial discounts on a range of electronics.

One of the big benefits of FNB Connect is its free bundles.

When it first launched, FNB customers got 50MB of free data every month.

Nowadays, FNB customers get free allocations of voice minutes, SMS messages, and data based on their eBucks level, as shown below:

  • Level 1 — 200MB data, 30 minutes, 30SMSs
  • Level 2 — 400MB data, 30 minutes, 30SMSs
  • Level 3 —  600MB data, 30 minutes, 30SMSs
  • Level 4 —  800MB data, 30 minutes, 30SMSs
  • Level 5 — 1GB data, 30 minutes, 30SMSs

If you spend R100 or more on a monthly subscription, bundle, or airtime, you get rewarded with double the data stated above.

FNB Connect vs Cell C

FNB Connect runs on Cell’s network, but things got more complicated when the mobile operator started shutting down its physical network.

Cell C has migrated its contract customers to roam on Vodacom’s network.

MTN is taking over the running of Cell C’s radio access network, which its prepaid subscribers and MVNO clients will use.

This includes FNB Connect, Standard Bank Mobile, and Mr Price Mobile.

Pricing comparison

We compared the prepaid bundle prices of FNB Connect with Cell C to see how their offers stack up.

FNB Connect offers the lowest price on a 30-day 1GB prepaid bundle on any network — at R59. This was drastically reduced from the R145 it charged at launch.

Cell C’s customers pay R65 for the same size bundle. On Vodacom and MTN, a 1GB bundle costs R85, while Telkom charges R79.

However, we found that FNB was substantially more expensive for larger bundles.

For example, Cell C charges R489 for a 30GB bundle, while FNB Connect’s is R1,149. Many of Cell C’s larger monthly bundles also come with an additional 30GB of night-time data.

The table below shows how the daily, weekly, and monthly bundle prices for data, voice minutes, and SMS messages compare between FNB Connect and its upstream network provider, Cell C.

FNB Connect vs Cell C — Data bundle prices
Size FNB Connect Cell C
Daily
25MB R4
50MB R7
100MB R11
150MB R15
250MB R19
300MB R17
500MB R29
600MB R19
1GB R49 R25
Weekly
50MB R9.00
60MB R10.00
100MB R15.00
150MB R19.00
250MB R25.00 R29.00
500MB R35.00 R49.00
1GB R55.00 R69.00
2GB R99.00 R99.00
Monthly
80MB R14.00
100MB R19.00
120MB R19.00
300MB R29.00 R29.00
500MB R39.00 R35.00
1GB R59.00 R65.00
2GB R109.00 R85.00
3GB R159.00 R99.00
5GB R249.00
6GB R199.00
10GB R469.00 R469.00
20GB R849.00
30GB R1,149.00 R489.00
40GB R489.00
50GB R1,899.00
100GB R3,399.00

Now read: Beware buying a Telkom SIM from Takealot

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