Heita - Hero

The sound of a Highveld African thunderstorm was the perfect backdrop to the launch of the forth mobile network to South Africa. Telkom have teased us, with their edgy Heita campaign, for a bit and now have unveiled their bold new mobile network 8.TA. Managing Executive of Telkom Mobile, Amith Maharaj, told guests at the huge launch event at Lanseria, “We Telkom, vow to “disrupt” the mobile market with an offering based on, Value, Simplicity, Authenticity, Innovation, and Quality. Easy to say, but may be a bit more difficult to deliver in the real world you and I live in. Let’s hope they deliver as promised.

The new 8.TA offering is simple, one rate for voice, and one rate for data, both very competitive with what’s out there from MTN, Vodacom and Cell C, Basically all calls to mobiles will be R1-50 all day, and calls to Telkom fixed lines will be an industry low of R0.65c, again anytime. Another big move is International dialling from the get go, with rates as low as R2-50 per minute to over 100 popular countries, no deposits, no international barring, clever, and in this market way overdue. Data will be R1-00 a Meg out of bundle, dropping to R0.24c per meg or R 250 a Gig if a bundle is bought, good, but still potentially a bit expensive for high usage individuals.

The clever stuff is in the billing, the rates above are good, simple, and should shake the competition tree a little, but what will get us all talking, get it, talking, is the rather clever billing system 8.TA have implemented. If your mates call you, from a mobile number, for every three seconds of incoming calls, you get 1 second of outgoing airtime, for free, loaded instantly on your account, and there’s more, send 5 SMS’s a day you instantly get 50 free SMS’s, the only catch is you must use them that day, oh and SMS’s cost R0.50cents, which is also competitive.

So, where can I get it and when? Well the good news is pretty much immediately, from Monday the 18th of October you can pop into any Telkom store, Glocell, CNA, Edgars, Altech Autopage, Jet, (shortly) Pick and Pay and others to sign up. Post-paid i.e. contracts and Telkom’s push into the corporate world will start in about a month from now and expect some innovative bundling with your Telkom account at that point.

Another big question is will I be able to call where ever I am? And the good news is yes. Telkom have signed a 5 year roaming agreement with MTN, so even if you are not covered by Telkom’s own network, and there are currently 800 towers out there, 96% of the country will be seamlessly covered by roaming on MTN’s network. Telkom will be aggressively rolling out more and more of their own, but for now, you won’t even notice you are not on their network as anywhere MTN is, 8.TA will be there. Impressively, from the get go 8.TA will have 3G HSDPA, once again on MTN, where available, and on Telkom’s own network, which had been running for a few years already.

Competition is great and I for one am jumping with joy at the introduction of a serious new player in the Mobile space in South Africa. And let me tell you from all indications Telkom is really serious, they have the expertise, they have the money, and they have the will, to compete in this dynamic environment.

So HEITA (Xhosa for Hello), or Hello, or 8.TA, to Telkom mobile, hope you keep pushing and innovating, and bringing down my mobile voice and data costs. MTN and Vodacom over to you.


Steven Ambrose
Contributing Editor