Telkom is a very different company to what it was a decade ago.
It has moved from being a state-protected monopoly, to a disruptive force in the South African telecommunications market.
Unlike the Telkom of old, the company offers aggressively-priced consumer products – often with free voice services – which put pressure on its competitors.
What Telkom is doing now was unthinkable in the early 2000s, when it fought to cling onto its monopoly in the fixed-line market.
Telkom was also a big shareholder in Vodacom, which means it had a dominant position in the South African fixed and mobile telecoms space.
However, things started to change after its monopoly in the fixed-line space disappeared and it sold its stake in Vodacom in 2009.
The new Telkom
Following the sale, Telkom launched a mobile operator, named 8ta, in 2010. This marked a change in the way the company approached the market.
8ta launched competitive mobile products and had a data-centric approach instead of the voice-centric approach of its competitors.
This data-centric strategy continued, and its FreeMe packages launched in 2016 surprised the market with large data allocations and free calls to local networks.
Telkom’s aggressive prices and innovative products saw the company voted the best mobile provider by consumers for five years in a row.
Telkom is now taking its strategy to the fixed-line market, recently launching its HOMEunlimited products. These offer subscribers uncapped data packages and free calls to Telkom numbers at good prices.
With the company now on the advance on the mobile and fixed-broadband fronts, it is clear Telkom wants to lead innovation in the telecoms market.
It has moved from a company which fought against change, to a company which is driving change.
The main reason behind Telkom’s strategic shift is competition, especially in the mobile market.
Telkom has changed from owning the largest mobile operator in South Africa (Vodacom), to owning the smaller operator fighting for market share.
The company also faces increased competition in the fixed-line market from companies like Liquid Telecom and Vox, and new players like Vumatel.
This competition has forced Telkom to adapt, which is never easy for a large company – especially one which had a monopoly culture and mindset.
Telkom’s latest products show that it is now getting it right and is delivering on its promise to become a consumer-focused company.
This is an opinion piece.