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3G Explained Print E-mail

3G (3rd generation) is a type of networking protocol that connects an end user (like you at home) to the back haul networks of a large internet service provider. 3G is a wireless protocol, meaning you are free to roam within the coverage area of the wireless signal. Coverage is determined by the internet service provider. Vodacom would be an example of such a provider.

3G is not the internet, or wireless LAN, or Telkom or indeed the post office - nor is it exclusive to any one service provider. In fact, 3G networks don't have to be connected to the internet. Internet service providers have found that delivering an internet connection over the 3G protocol is cost effective and works well, which is why they use it.

Here is a visual idea (left) of what a 3G connection to the internet might look like, and is compared to ADSL (right), for example:

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3G Technology requires a modem to decode 3G signal into data that you surf the internet with. This modem can be found in our 3G modem shop.

Once you have purchased a modem , you then require an activated SIM card (from Vodacom , MTN , Cell C or Virgin) , and airtime loaded onto the SIM card. You will then be allowed to connect to the internet through that SIM card at a specific out of bundle rate (usually R2 per megabyte). It is cheaper (roughly 19c per megabyte) to buy a data bundle , which are pre-set amounts of data which a user buys up front and which expire after a month (in the case of MTN) and two months (in the case of Vodacom).

Currently , only MTN and Vodacom have a high speed data cell network. CellC and Virgin only have the slower EDGE networks. Thus , we recommend using either MTN or Vodacom as your 3G provider.

Here is a table of Vodacom’s in bundle and out of bundle rates as of 1 August 2009:

Prepaid & Top Up
Data Option

Data Included
(per Month)

Subscription
(incl VAT)

Effective
In-bundle
rate
(per MB)

Out-of-bundle
rate

(per MB)

MY MEG 5

5 MB

R 9.25

R 1.85

R 2.00

MY MEG 20

20 MB

R 28.00

R 1.40

R 2.00

MY MEG 75

75 MB

R 88.00

R 1.17

R 2.00

MY MEG 150

150 MB

R 119.00

R 0.79

R 2.00

MY MEG 250

250 MB

R 139.00

R 0.56

R 2.00

MY MEG 500

500 MB

R 189.00

R 0.38

R 2.00

MY GIG One

1 GB

R 289.00

R 0.28

R 2.00

MY GIG Two

2 GB

R 389.00

R 0.19

R 2.00

MY GIG Three

3 GB

R 589.00

R 0.19

R 2.00

MY GIG Five

5 GB

R 989.00

R 0.19

R 2.00

MY GIG Ten

10 GB

R 1,989.00

R 0.19

R 2.00

To purchase one of these bundles , you typically load the airtime onto the SIM card (for example , inserting the SIM into a cell phone and dialling 100 on Vodacom) , and then purchase a data bundle through the same voice prompt system.

In summary , to connect to the internet using a 3G connection , you need :

  • A 3G modem
  • An activated SIM card
  • Airtime (can be purchased from just about any shop)

We sell all these items in our shop.

We are not particularly fond of tying subscribers into contracts , and we understand that customers are not keen to be locked into a contract. Thus , we do not offer them.Instead , we offer prepaid solutions on all our modems – and you can top up your bandwidth whenever you need it.

We also unlock our modems and sell them once off – so you won’t be stuck if you need to move to another provider. Just buy a new prepaid starter pack (about R10) , load airtime and change the settings in the software. No need to buy another modem or cancel a contract!