Telkom’s mobile operator 8ta was launched on 14 October 2010, promising to shake up the local cellular market with simpler and cheaper ways to communicate.
Telkom launched both prepaid and postpaid services within the first few weeks of operation, and within the first six months 8ta had signed up 1,199,596 subscribers who completed the RICA process. Of these subscribers, 473,604 are active on the 8ta network.
While 8ta’s data subscribers have been using the company’s network from the start, 8ta is still using MTN’s network for all its voice services.
In early May 2011 all Telkom staff with 8ta services began using the 8ta network for their mobile voice and data services, and roamed onto the MTN network where 8ta coverage was not available.
Telkom said at the time that a phased approach was used to ensure that subscribers will have a good experience on 8ta’s network.
Telkom Mobile Managing Executive Amith Maharaj said yesterday (20 June 2011) that they are still testing their voice network to ensure that their service levels are world class before switching their subscribers over from MTN.
Maharaj said that a bad network at launch can haunt a mobile provider for years, and that they will make sure that this is not the case with 8ta.
Maharaj explained that while they have an internal target as to when their voice network will be switched on, they have not made a firm decision on when this will happen. Maharaj did indicate that the last quarter of 2011 (or earlier) is a likely launch date.
The good news for consumers is that 8ta is planning a few ‘killer deals’ when they launch their voice network. Maharaj would not elaborate on these deals, but said that consumers will be pleasantly surprised by the value that 8ta will offer them.