WhatsApp is an incredibly popular social network in Kenya. It is used by millions of Kenyans daily to talk to each other or when they try to exit those groups they hate.
This is why networks use WhatsApp to market their bundle offerings. They give special ‘WhatsApp bundles’ that are either separate or purchased in a bundle. While the motive is clear, I find them to be quite pointless and this is why.
Free WhatsApp bundles are tied in combo bundles
WhatsApp bundles have a clear target market. They are marketed for the majority of Kenyans who cannot afford the regular bundles but still do not want to miss out on updates.
This is why you see networks bundling ‘free WhatsApp’ into a variety of bundles as an enticing agent.
We get plentiful data for cheap
We are living in an age where we get a lot of data for cheap. We can get daily data, weekly data or monthly data subscriptions with data caps we dreamed off back in the day.
For example, Telkom gives you 500MB data plus 500MB night data for 50 bob as a daily bundle. That’s a lot of data for a lot of people and I rarely finish it. They also have one where you can get 30GB of data for Kshs 1000 a month and it is dished out at 1GB a day intervals.
Airtel offers 400MB of data for Kshs 50 bob daily. Safaricom is the most expensive of the bunch where their most sensible offer gives you 1GB of data for Kshs 100 daily.
This is data that is uncapped and if you’re on 4G (all our major networks have 4G), there is no need for dedicated WhatsApp bundles.
Free WhatsApp bundles have limitations.
Free things have limitations and each major network has its own unique restrictions on WhatsApp bundles.
On Airtel, free WhatsApp is capped at 150MB per day. If you exhaust the limit, you will be throttled and be charged Kshs 4/- per MB.
On Telkom, the free WhatsApp daily allocation bundle is 50MB. If you exhaust the limit, you will be charged Kshs 4/- per MB afterwards.
Safaricom’s case is quite special. If you buy bundles that have free WhatsApp, you can only use the ‘free WhatsApp bundles’ when you deplete your data bundles. The free WhatsApp bundle is throttled at 512kbps for the validity of the bundle purchased. Safaricom also says you can’t even use the free WhatsApp bundle to send media files, only texts.
Adrian, Free Whats app bundles is used to send /receive whats app messages and not multimedia messages such as Images, videos and viewing of status.^KC
— Safaricom PLC (@SafaricomPLC) October 16, 2019
Free WhatsApp bundles are great marketing tools for the Kenyan market but they are pointless by themselves. You will be getting a degraded performance when you switch to them when your data bundle is depleted and you do not have airtime to buy a new combo bundle.
However, it is also interesting to note how each major network handles the free WhatsApp differently. Airtel has a 150MB while being throttled, Telkom is worse with a 50MB cap and Safaricom forces you to finish your current bundle so that you can enjoy a throttled experience on WhatsApp.
Are free WhatsApp bundles worth it? Well it depends. If you buy large data bundles, it is completely not worth it. If you have Wi-Fi, it is not worth it. If you use WhatsApp a lot and you don’t have a lot of money, then the 100MB+Free WhatsApp bundles from either Telkom or Airtel would be a godsend.
Our major networks should only tie the Free WhatsApp bundles to their budget bundle offerings. Offering free WhatsApp on bundles with generous data allowances is pointless.