Telkom goes mobile with 8ta

15 October 2010

South Africans are set to benefit from increased competition in the local mobile telecommunications market, with fixed-line operator Telkom launching its own cellular offering, branded as 8ta (Heita!).

The launch revealed who was behind the high-profile “Heita!” (a township slang greeting) advertising campaign, which has intrigued South Africans for the past few weeks.

Addressing guests at the network’s launch in Johannesburg this week, Telkom Mobile executive Amith Maharaj said that 8ta products would offer more value than any other network provider, and that the new service would “get people to talk more”.

“I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is the start of a new era in mobile phone communication in South Africa,” Maharaj said. “Consumers will at last have a real choice.”

Free talk time, real-time usage info

According to 8ta, all prepaid customers will for the first time benefit from free talk time to any network every time they receive calls from a mobile phone – 1 free second of airtime for every 3 seconds of call received – a benefit that is available all day, every day.

Calls from 8ta to fixed line will cost 60% less than typical market rates for similar calls, and there will be a flat rate of R2.50 per minute to over 100 international destinations.

“Additionally, when you send five SMSs in a day, 8ta will give you 50 bonus SMS’s at no extra cost to use that same day,” the network operator said in a statement.

The network will also provide prepaid internet customers with an out-of-bundle rate of R1 per megabyte, while prepaid data bundles can be purchased for as low as 25c per megabyte.

The billing system ensures that both prepaid and contract customers have access to real-time usage information so that they can understand their consumption moment by moment, without receiving unexpectedly high bills at the end of the month.

“We are able to mobilise the reliability of fixed-line and the agility of mobile to provide products that South African people really want,” said Telkom Group acting CEO Jeffrey Hedberg.

National coverage, ‘top notch’ service

8ta has constructed 800 base stations across the country, and plans to construct a further 3 200 base stations over time to improve coverage and connectivity. The services have been built on an end-to-end Internet Protocol based 2G and 3G network, which is easily upgradable to a Long Term Evolution (LTE), or “4G” network.

“To ensure top notch customer service and quality of experience, a new call centre and new IT systems have also been implemented,” Telkom said.

8ta has also entered into a national roaming agreement with MTN to extend its coverage reach to more than 96% of the South African population.

The network will also offer a full international roaming service through another established and experienced international service provider when it launches post-paid services next month.

8ta has created a countrywide sales network that includes the major consumer retailers and mobile wholesalers as well as 132 Telkom Direct outlets across South Africa.

“We wanted to create a brand that builds upon Telkom’s heritage around quality and innovation,” said Telkom South Africa MD Pinky Moholi. “At the same time, we realised the need to be simple and to be authentically South African.”

SAinfo reporter

Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material