Cell C has launched StarCALL, which gives customers with a zero balance the ability to ping a recipient to call them back.
This takes the form of a missed call on their phone, even though customers usually cannot execute a ring when they have no airtime or minutes available.
The service uses patented technology by Starlogik, a global IP company specialising in advanced telecommunications.
To use the service, Cell C users simply tap the star key followed by the number they want to call.
This call will then be routed from the Cell C network to Starlogik’s virtual switch, where an instant ping to the recipient is generated.
“The problem of zero-balance unconnected users is a world-wide problem affecting billions of people,” said Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson.
“These voiceless markets are excluded from being able to communicate with loved ones or in times of emergencies.”
“We are proud that we are one of the first telcos in the world to implement the Starlogik technology and open up communications to millions of South Africans who do not have the resources to load credit onto their phones and are therefore excluded from communicating,” Craigie Stevenson added.
He said the service will help disadvantaged South Africans remain in contact with their loved ones during the COVID-19 lockdown.
“We are especially proud to be able to respond to the COVID-19 crisis by helping South Africans who have been or will be badly impacted stay connected, and to support the President’s appeal to assist those who are disadvantaged,” said Craigie Stevenson.
StarCALL vs Please Call Me
The service is strikingly similar to the Please Call Me service already available to customers on MTN, Vodacom, Telkom, and Cell C.
However, Cell C explained that while the Please Call Me sends the recipient a message asking them to call the sender back, StarCALL will leave a missed call on the recipient’s smartphone.
“The B-party [recipient] is more likely to call back on a missed call than to a ‘Please Call Me’,” said Cell C.
MyBroadband tested the new StarCALL service and found that the call rings for the caller, but not the recipient.
After a moment the service seemingly accepts the call on behalf of the recipient.
The call is terminated while the call timer states 0:00 and the caller is not charged for the call.
The recipient receives a missed call from the number that used the StarCALL service – even though their phone never rings.