Vodacom South Africa has introduced night owl bundles to all its 24-month top-up data contracts, providing users with additional after-hours data, according to a report. A night owl bundle is a free data bundle equal to the size of the active bundle, but with the data available only between midnight and 5:00 a.m. For example, a 3 GB bundle would receive 3 GB of night owl data. The night owl bundle is given consumption priority over any active recurring bundles or one-time-only bundles during the after-hours period. The bundle is valid for a calendar month and will expire at midnight on the last day of the respective month.
This offer of after-hours bonus matching data seems to us like an excellent idea. First, by giving users free data, it will foster good will toward the operator. Second, it will promote fuller utilization of the operator’s networks capacity, by increasing traffic during a time period when it is normally at its lowest. Third, it may cause at least some customers to change their consumption patterns; some may be night owls by nature who welcome the chance to use more data at night, while others may stay up later than usual for the express purpose of taking advantage of free data. If exceptional usage patterns were to become habitual for a sufficient number of customers, then the operator could benefit by charging for the nighttime data after the promotion period is over. For Vodacom, the offer of free night owl data is hardly costly, because the network is underutilized at that time in any case. But if it could eventually charge for that data, a significant revenue boost could be in the offing.