22 May 2007
UK-based global cellular group Vodafone is to use South Africa as one of three countries to launch its own-name brand of low-cost mobile handsets, aimed at ensuring easier access to telephony for millions of people in developing countries.
China’s ZTE Corporation is manufacturing the Vodafone 125 and the Vodafone 225, following an agreement between the two companies in late 2006, based on features, design and functionality specified by Vodafone.
The two models of phones will be available in South Africa through Vodafone’s local concern, Vodacom, “in the next few weeks”, Vodafone said in a statement this week.
According to Vodafone, mobile technology is the only cost-effective form of telecommunications in emerging markets and rural areas. However, the company says, the cost of purchasing a mobile handset remains a barrier to accessing such services for people living in these parts of the world.
“The Vodafone 125 and Vodafone 225 handsets are intended to help drive mobile penetration, and will provide access to services for people in emerging markets that are already commonplace in Western Europe,” the company says.
The two handsets are likely to retail at around US$25 and $45, depending on the specific model and the local market conditions. While the handsets are almost identical in functionality, the Vodafone 125 has a black-and-white screen and the Vodafone 225 a colour screen.
“The Vodafone 125 and Vodafone 225 are the first of a range of ultra-low cost handsets which will be manufactured exclusively for Vodafone and its affiliates by ZTE Corporation,” said Vodafone’s global director of terminals, Jens Schulte-Bockum.
“We are delighted that they represent everything that customers have come to expect from Vodafone – high quality and exceptional value for money.”