Home Living in South Africa House & Home Telecommunications in South Africa: setting up internet, TV, and telephones
Last update on June 11, 2021

Being connected is a vital element of expat life. Having a South African phone number and access to the internet in South Africa enables you to keep in touch with friends and family back at home, along with new people you’ve recently met.

Whether you are renting in South Africa or buying property in South Africa, you’ll want to get internet, phone, and TV sorted out fairly quickly as well as making sure that South African utilities are connected. You will need to contact the relevant phone providers in South Africa to get these things connected or transferred to your name if they already are. If you are renting a place, you will also want to find out from the landlord if any of the associated charges are included in your rent costs.

This guide covers the key information about phones in South Africa including how to go about finding suitable providers for services such as internet and mobile phone. It will cover:

Telecommunications in South Africa

Telecommunications in South Africa, including internet, television and phone services, are at a good standard in urban areas. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of providers in all industries, meaning greater consideration needs to be given to choosing the appropriate packages. To watch TV in South Africa, you will also need to purchase a TV license from SABC.

Connecting to a South African phone number

Connecting a telephone in South Africa is a fairly simple process. Landline rental is provided by only two companies – Telkom (who until fairly recently had a monopoly on South African line rental) and Neotel. Telkom offers standard landline rental alongside various internet and mobile phone deals. Neotel offers a wider range of packages but, as it is a fairly new company, has more limited coverage. Both companies charge an installation fee.

South Africa phone number

Landlines are available from either company online or by phone. After ordering, the company contacts you to set a date for installation or delivery. Landline costs are around ZAR 200 per month, with combined phone and internet packages starting at around ZAR 600 per month.

Getting a South African mobile phone number

Mobile phones in South Africa are common, with 90% of the national territory covered by the GSM network. There are five main mobile phone providers in South Africa: Cell C, Vodacom, Virgin Mobile, MTN South Africa and Telkom (formerly 8ta).

Both Pay As You Go SIM cards and contract deals are available. To sign up for a mobile phone contract in South Africa, you will need to be a resident and provide bank details, South African ID, proof of address and proof of income. If you are visiting South Africa short term, most major international phones work in the country. Charges are usually around ZAR 25 per call and ZAR 10 per text.

Mobile phone costs in South Africa have reduced greatly in the last five years due to the reduction of the interconnect rate (the cost of one mobile network connecting to another network).

Connecting to the internet in South Africa

There are over 12 million internet users in South Africa, which represents around 34% of the population. Internet coverage in South Africa is primarily in urban areas. Some users are restricted to dial-up as broadband availability is limited, though improving. Wireless broadband is available in the cities and hotspots are ubiquitous in hotels, cafes, etc. You can find a map of free wifi hotspots in South Africa here.

There are a number of internet providers in South Africa. Telkom, the partially state-owned telecommunications provider in South Africa, is the largest company providing both fixed line and wireless packages. Other popular internet providers in South Africa include Neotel, MWEB, Vodacom, MTN and Cell C.

Internet South Africa

Internet speed in South Africa varies but is normally between 2-40Mb, depending on the provider. Internet costs in South Africa are quite expensive given the speeds available and consists of three parts – ADSL line rental (starting at ZAR 165 a month for a 2Mb line), regular phone line rental (ZAR 200 a month) and internet service provider (ISP) which starts at around ZAR 25 a month for 1GB. Telkom and Neotel also provide landline rental. Companies have started offering internet provision that doesn’t require a landline, through fiber-optic router, although coverage is still limited. Prices start at around ZAR 700 a month.

To set up internet in South Africa, you will need to make sure you have a working landline with either Telkom or Neotel. You then choose your internet provider. The time taken to set up internet connection in your home depends on which provider you choose.

Getting a VPN in South Africa

When moving abroad, it’s more important than ever to ensure your privacy and security while surfing online. For many expats, this means getting a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs can help you browse with more anonymity and privacy wherever you are in the world. They can also help unblock online content, letting you access your favorite sites and platforms from home and abroad. VPNs available in South Africa include:

Connecting to South African TV (television)

Television in South Africa includes four main stations: three run by the state-owned South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) – SABC 1, SABC 2, SABC 3 – as well as eTV. There are also various community-based stations, such as Cape Town TV and Soweto TV, and a digital satellite provider (DStv) which provides over 100 channels.

To watch TV in South Africa, you will need a valid South African TV license which costs ZAR 265 a year. There is a monthly payment option with a small premium, which works out at ZAR 336 per year. Failing to pay the South African TV license can result in a fine equivalent to 100% of the license amount.

South Africa has recently made the switch from analog to digital, so in most areas you won’t need to worry about an aerial for reception. Cost of South African TVs vary greatly depending on model and size and can vary from ZAR 2,000 to ZAR 200,000.

Main suppliers for phones, TV and internet in South Africa

Internet and phone providers

Digital TV providers

Comparing providers in South Africa

Comparing internet deals in South Africa

Comparing mobile phone deals in South Africa

South Africa TV

Other comparison websites in South Africa

Registering a complaint about telecommunications in South Africa

If you have a complaint or need to raise an issue with any of the telecommunications industries in South Africa, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) is the national regulating body for telecommunications in South Africa.