MTN South Africa ends free Twitter service

MTN will stop offering customers free Twitter usage. After providing free Twitter to millions of subscribers for four years, MTN’s Twitter service will come to an end at midnight on Tuesday 25 September 2018.

“Free Twitter started out as a 90-day promotion in May 2014 and over time, it has become part of the landscape of social media in South Africa. MTN first gave people the free platform to experience Twitter, which then had a relatively small local following. At the time, the whole of South Africa only had 5,5 million Twitter users. To date, MTN has more than double that number on our network alone,” said Jacqui O’Sullivan, Executive for Corporate Affairs at MTN SA.

Last month, the number of free Twitter users soared to a new high of 13 million users, using an extraordinary 1,9 petabytes of network data per month.

“It has been fabulous to see so many people enjoying the service for the past four years and we accept that Sunday Tweeting will not be the same. While we know our free Twitter users will be disappointed, we hope they will enjoy the next four days of free Twitter before a phased shutdown of the service will start,” said O’Sullivan.

MTN also announced changes to the pricing and sizing of its WhatsApp and Twitter bundles. From Monday 1 October MTN’s Twitter and WhatsApp bundles will also be amended. The weekly WhatsApp bundle rate increases from 100MB (for R5) to 250MB for R10. This change is to cater for the increased demand MTN is seeing for larger bundles while still delivering extra value to WhatsApp users. The daily offer, meanwhile, increases from R1 to R2 but moves from 20MB to 50MB. MTN’s Twitter bundles will also change in size and pricing. The current daily bundle will move from R1 for 20MB to R5 for 100MB and the weekly rate will change from 100MB for R5 to 500MB for R20.

“While our pricing has increased, we were mindful of ensuring that our offering remained competitive and affordable. In line with this, both offerings still provide great value in the market,” explains O’Sullivan.

Overall usage trends towards video and images have determined that it is no longer feasible to offer a service like Twitter for free due to the cost and demand it places on the network.

Twitter was originally intended as a quick and snappy way to stay connected with the world – within a 140 character (now 280) limit. It has since evolved into a platform that is video and image intensive, making it no longer feasible to offer this as a value-added service to our customers. While we understand Twitter fans will be disappointed to see the end of this free service, MTN is committed to delivering other exciting and affordable ways to connect our customers to the digital platforms they love,” concluded O’Sullivan.

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Gbenga Ajao
Gbenga Ajao is a journalist. He has garnered experience in print, electronic and new media. He is passionate about mobile and web technology.

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