Telkom Mobile roaming nightmare for LTE bundle users

Telkom mobile data subscribers who use the operator’s on-network data packages are reporting that they are being disconnected from the Internet, despite having more than enough data available.

The issue appears to be related to how Telkom has configured roaming connectivity on the Vodacom network, and comes after it switched from MTN to Vodacom as its roaming partner.

As part of its switch, Telkom has set up a separate network called “TelkomSA-R” with the Public Land Mobile Network (PLMN) code of 65505.

Based on the network’s behaviour, TelkomSA-R is a kind of virtual network for roaming which runs on Vodacom’s infrastructure.

Cellular networks have globally unique numbers which identify them, known as Public Land Mobile Network (PLMN) codes. These PLMN codes are made up of a country code and a number for the network.

Rather than displaying this code, cellphones instead use something more human-readable known as the PLMN name. In this case, the PLMN name of Telkom’s roaming network is TelkomSA-R.

Telkom sending out-of-bundle messages

Subscribers on Telkom’s mobile network are reporting that they are being connected to the TelkomSA-R network, even when Telkom’s own network (TelkomSA) is available.

If you only have one of Telkom’s own-network packages loaded, often sold as Telkom LTE/LTE-A data, it sends you the same SMS message as if you were out of data.

This message states that your Internet access has been paused and that you need to load a new data bundle. However, your Telkom LTE data has not actually been depleted — you have merely been disconnected from Telkom’s cellular network.

MyBroadband has been able to replicate this problem on several different Huawei and Samsung devices. We were sometimes able to reconnect to the TelkomSA network by switching the devices to airplane mode and back again, or by manually selecting it from the cellular network settings.

Manually selecting the TelkomSA network did not ensure that the device always remains connected to Telkom’s own infrastructure.

Big problems

While we have generally been able to force a reconnection to the TelkomSA network, other subscribers have reported being disconnected for hours before being allowed to reconnect to the TelkomSA network.

Even those with all-network bundles loaded have reported a lack of throughput at times since Telkom made the switch from roaming on MTN to Vodacom.

Some subscribers have also reported being connected to the VodacomSA network at times and not TelkomSA or TelkomSA-R, with no data services available.

Telkom — No comment

Telkom was asked for feedback on this problem, but it did not respond by the time of publication.

However, it did send a text message to subscribers telling them to buy all-network bundles when they are connected to the TelkomSA-R network.

The message is reproduced below:

Mo’Nice tip: We have recently changed roaming partners to enhance your network experience where you don’t have Telkom coverage. Where you see Telkom-R at the top of your phone, we advise that you purchase all-net bundles instead of Telkom bundles on *123#, as you are most likely roaming on our partner. Telkom bundle will work great when you don’t see an R! The Telkom team.

Now read: Big problems with Telkom email

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Telkom Mobile roaming nightmare for LTE bundle users