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Mobile phone coverage in South Africa: Can you hear me now?

Visitors to South Africa are generally delighted with the mobile (cell phone) coverage that we have here. We have 3 major mobile phone networks here which provide excellent coverage in populated areas and on/near national roads. As long as you have a GSM cell phone that runs either the 900mhz or 1800mhz bands then your cell-phone will work, albeit on expensive roaming. But there are options after the jump.

  • If the phone you are traveling with is an unblocked phone, meaning it is not restricted to your home network, then just go ahead and get a sim card “starter pack” by itself. These can be purchased at any supermarket or cell phone kiosk.
  • A good option for those that are spending a little more time here, is to purchase a cheap phone (R200-R300) ($30-$40) at Cash Crusaders or Game and an almost free sim card.
  • For the starter pack I would recommend Virgin mobile (cheapest calls and simple tariff structure) which costs R51 ($7) and includes R50 worth of airtime.
  • Renting cell phones here is expensive and a bit pointless considering the other options.

For more information on whether your phone will work in South Africa check out this resource on Cell phone frequencies.