South Africa’s cellular market tonight welcomed its fourth mobile operator, 8ta. 8ta is ‘powered by Telkom’ and was commonly known as Telkom Mobile before the launch tonight.
Telkom is confident that 8ta will make waves in the local mobile space, and the company’s executives claimed their services will be regarded in South Africa as the one that will “get people to talk more.”
Managing Executive of Telkom Mobile (branded as 8ta), Amith Maharaj, said “We will provide the platform for South Africans to communicate more. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is the start of a new era in mobile phone communication in South Africa. Consumers will at last have a real choice.”
Maharaj promised that 8ta products would offer more value than any other network provider. “For the first time in South Africa, all prepaid customers will benefit from free talk time to any network every time they receive calls from a mobile phone – 1 free second of airtime for every 3 seconds of call received,” said Maharaj.
Telkom Group Acting CEO Jeffrey Hedberg said the launch of 8ta was a watershed event. “We are able to mobilise the reliability of fixed-line and the agility of mobile to provide products that South African people really want.”
8ta said that consumers can expect the following from the company:
- At launch, 1 pre-paid voice and 1 pre-paid data offering.
- Ultimately, 2 pre-paid, 4 post-paid and 3 data offers, vs. hundreds of options from competitors.
- Same on-net and off-net rates on pre-paid.
- No hidden costs – simple and transparent pricing.
8ta has constructed 800 base stations across the country, and plans to construct a further 3 200 base stations over time to improve coverage and connectivity. Whilst 8ta is still growing its network the operator will have full national coverage, given their roaming agreement with MTN.
The Radio Access Network supports HSPA and is configured for downlink speeds up to 7.2Mbps and can be provisioned to support download speeds of up to 21Mbps. In addition, the network hardware that is deployed allows for a seamless migration to LTE.
A further advantage of the selected dualband network infrastructure is the significant power efficiency realised over other legacy systems (30% improvement). This translates into a very cost effective, sustainable and environmentally friendly network deployment.
The network architecture deployed is a fully IP based network from base station to core. It allows maximum efficiency of the back-haul while providing the relevant prioritisation of mobile service flows, translating into a better quality of service and overall experience for the customer.
“The 8ta network aims to further differentiate itself from its competitors by offering services never before seen in South Africa. In support of this the Core, Applications and Services network makes use of cutting edge technology that is IP based which enables flexible, and innovative capabilities that provide 8ta the ability to quickly introduce new services to the market,” said 8ta.
According to 8ta calls from them to fixed line will cost 60 % less than typical market rates for similar calls. Calls from an 8ta mobile phone to both Telkom and Neotel fixed lines will be priced at 65c per minute, independent of the time of the call (hence no peak and off-peak rates).
There will also be a flat rate of R2.50 per minute for calls from an 8ta mobile phone to over 100 international destinations.
Mobile to mobile calls will be charged at R1.50 per minute independent of which network is called or which time of the day the call is made.
Users will further be rewarded for receiving calls by getting one second of talk time free for every three seconds which they spend on the phone when someone calls them on their 8ta number.
SMS and MMS
Both SMSs and MMSs are priced at 50c each, but 8ta subscribers will also get 50 bonus SMSs at no extra cost to use that same day if they send 5 SMSs per day.
8ta prepaid internet customers will get an out-of-bundle rate of R1 per megabyte, while prepaid data bundles can be purchased for as low as 25c per megabyte.
The prepaid data bundles which will be available at launch are:
- 100 MB for R50.
- 250 MB for R100.
- 500 MB for R150.
- 1 GB for R250.
The prepaid data bundles purchased in a certain month will last until the end of the following calendar month. Real time billing also comes standard, both for prepaid and future contract customers, 8ta pointed out.
Availability and future plans
8ta will initially only offer prepaid services through a countrywide sales network that includes the major consumer retailers and mobile wholesalers, as well as 132 Telkom Direct outlets across South Africa and the 8ta flagship stores.
“At launch we will be available at Edgars, Jet, CNA, Altech, and Smartcall. Other large retailers, such as Shoprite and Pick ‘n Pay, will be rapidly brought on stream shortly,” 8ta said.
8ta said that they plan to introduce several tiers of devices – low-end, feature phones and smartphones from all the major manufacturers.
8ta said they have plans to bring Android and Blackberry to the market by the end of the year, and are actively working on the plan for an iPhone introduction with their channel partners.
Postpaid 8ta services will be made available in November.
8ta powered by Telkom: Pricing and other details << Comments and views
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