After many years of being a Telkom mobile subscriber, I moved to Vodacom. The reasons are simple – Telkom has roaming problems and Vodacom now offers big data deals on an excellent network.
Over the last few years, Telkom showed strong mobile growth thanks to its good value proposition to consumers.
Telkom’s data-centric FreeMe bundles offer many smartphone users what they want – lots of data and free calls at an affordable price.
I preferred Telkom’s prepaid data bundles. Although these products offer less value than FreeMe bundles, I never make calls or send SMSs, which means a data-only product suits me better.
While Telkom has poor coverage with slow speeds in some areas, it was easy to solve this problem by always roaming on MTN.
Although only 3G roaming was available to Telkom subscribers, the speeds were still very good. In short, I was a happy Telkom customer.
In June this year, Telkom started to roam on Vodacom’s 2G, 3G, and 4G infrastructure with seamless handover.
Apart from the benefit of 4G roaming, Telkom said its new roaming service means that customers will not experience dropped calls when moving from Telkom to Vodacom infrastructure.
Unfortunately, there were many teething problems with the new roaming agreement. This left subscribers without connectivity in many cases.
While subscribers see the “TelkomSA-R” sign, which means they should roam on Vodacom’s network, the service simply does not work.
The situation is even worse for Telkom’s on-net only data bundle users, who reported that their connections have become unstable.
Moving to Vodacom
The frustration of an unstable connection and being left without connectivity because of Telkom’s new roaming service made me look for an alternative.
The good news for me was that Vodacom and MTN recently launched big data packages which offer excellent value for money.
These bundles, which range between 10GB and 50GB anytime data per month, were exactly what I need to stay connected when not at home.
The only real choice was which network to select – MTN or Vodacom. MTN has the best network in South Africa, but Vodacom is a close second with excellent coverage countrywide.
The choice was made for me when my wife offered me one of her Vodacom contract SIMs with a 10GB data contract on it (she combined her personal and business phones).
I am now back on Vodacom’s network, and it just works. There are no roaming problems and I have enough data not to worry about top-ups.
I do hope Telkom resolves its roaming problems, as we need strong competition from the smaller operators to put pressure on Vodacom and MTN.
For now, however, it is tough to beat the overall value proposition of the big data deals from South Africa’s large operators.
This is an opinion piece.