Biggest South African IT and telecoms stories of 2019

2019 was an exciting year in the South Africa IT and telecommunications market with many exciting developments and big changes.

This year saw Rain launching the country’s first commercial 5G products and Telkom starting to roam on Vodacom’s network.

Cell C, which continues to struggle financially, concluded a new agreement with MTN which gives it nationwide roaming.

Another big development was MultiChoice’s listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) – the first new listing in 2019.

2019 was also a year where many South African companies and government institutions were targeted by cyber-criminals.

A group which called itself “Shadow Kill Hackers” compromised the City of Johannesburg’s IT systems and demanded a ransom to not leak data which they said they stole.

Local Internet service providers (ISPs) were also targeted by cybercriminals through DDoS attacks that saw many broadband users left without connectivity.

To give an overview of these events and others which shaped the South African IT and telecoms market, here are the biggest stories of the year.

Rain 5G is here – Uncapped ultra-fast Internet for R1,000 per month

Rain launched its new 5G service in September, offering “unlimited ultra-fast Internet” with speeds of up to 700Mbps.

Rain 5G unbox header

Telkom wants to buy Cell C

In November, Telkom confirmed that it was in discussions with Cell C to acquire the embattled mobile network. Shortly afterwards Cell C rejected Telkom’s offer, but some Cell C shareholders still want the deal to go through.

Telkom logo presentation

MultiChoice lists on the JSE

MultiChoice Group listed on the JSE on 27 February 2019. MultiChoice Group CEO Calvo Mawela blew the market’s “kudu horn” to mark the occasion, following JSE representatives stating there was phenomenal interest in the listing.

Massive DDoS attacks – South African Internet providers crippled

Internet service providers in South Africa fell prey to massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in 2019.


The big South African IP address heist – How millions are made on the “grey” market

Large chunks of South African Internet Protocol address space, worth millions of dollars on the open reseller market, has been stolen or is being squatted on by unscrupulous overseas network operators.

Mimecast Cybercriminal

Vodacom and MTN must cut prices by 50% and give users free data

The Competition Commission published a final report on its Data Service Market Inquiry in December. The  Commission stated that the biggest mobile operators in the country – Vodacom and MTN – must drop their prices.

Vodacom MTN smartphones

Remgro is building a telecoms powerhouse in South Africa

Community Investment Ventures Holdings (CIVH), which is 54% owned by Remgro and 35% by NewGX, is growing into a South African telecommunications powerhouse with very valuable assets.

Pieter Uys

Discovery Bank launches

Discovery Bank unveiled its three banking accounts in July – Discovery Gold Card, Discovery Platinum Card, and Discovery Black Card  – with prices ranging between R90 and R325 per month.

Discovery Bank

The first smartphones made in South Africa

In October, Mara Phones officially opened the first smartphone manufacturing facility in South Africa, located in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

Mara Phone gold header

VAST Networks shut down

Wi-Fi network provider VAST Networks shut down in late 2019. After years of seeking a buyer for the floundering company, Dimension Data and Naspers decided to pull the plug.

Cell C struggling financially, Black shut down

Cell C is shutting down its Black streaming service. In an SMS sent to Black users, the company stated that the service will close on 31 December 2019.

South Africa has been conducting mass surveillance on its citizens

Privacy International recently reported that South Africa and the UK have admitted to running mass surveillance programmes, intercepting communications in bulk from citizens and foreigners.

South Africa Government Technology Spy

Cell C terminating fixed-LTE services

Cell C is discontinuing its fixed-LTE services through Internet Solutions, shutting down the product’s availability to other ISPs.

Cell C Connect Your Way logo

New spectrum policy

The Department of Communications published its policy on high-demand spectrum in July, an act which paves the way for this valuable resource to be given to operators.


Econet shuts down Netflix partner Kwesé Play

The Roku devices of Kwesé Play subscribers in South Africa and elsewhere on the continent stopped working on 3 July, displaying a message suggesting that the platform had been shut down.

Kwese Play

Webafrica for sale

Internet service provider Webafrica is for sale, and a few prominent ISPs, including Afrihost and RSAWEB, have been linked to a potential deal.

Vodacom acquiring IoT.nxt

Vodacom acquired IoT.nxt, a development company that delivers software and hardware solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT).


Ford drivers beware – Criminals targeting models with “poor lock system”

Numerous Ford owners are complaining that valuables were stolen out of their vehicles because of their cars’ poor security systems.

Microsoft launches data centres in South Africa

Microsoft South Africa announced that it has launched enterprise-grade data centres in Johannesburg and Cape Town.


Liquid Telecom terminating “old” CDMA, WIMAX, and LTE products

Liquid Telecom has stated that it is terminating “legacy products” on its wireless CDMA, WIMAX, and LTE networks.

Liquid Telecom

TymeBank officially launching in South Africa

TymeBank launched in 500 Pick n Pay and Boxer stores in February.

TymeBank Logo

Vodacom offered Makate R49 million – and he said no

Vodacom offered Kenneth Makate R49 million for his involvement in the Please Call Me service the network launched, according to litigation funder Chris Schoeman.

Nkosana Makate

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Biggest South African IT and telecoms stories of 2019