Telecommunications operator Neotel plans to open retail outlets in the country’s major urban centres as it seeks to expand its presence in the consumer market in the next few years.
The company has already opened its first store, at Cedar Square in Fourways north of Johannesburg.
Neotel has signed up 30 000 retail customers on its CDMA network, says CEO Ajay Pandey (pictured). Pandey says reaching 30 000 is a milestone for the company, especially given the problems it has experienced in building its wireless network. It has struggled to get the necessary environmental approvals it needs to build high sites in the Western Cape, which has crimped potential growth in the consumer market.
Neotel says it has sold about 1 000 of its new NeoGo data cards since the product was launched about six weeks ago. The NeoGo service also uses the company’s CDMA infrastructure.
Now, to help speed up sales into the consumer segment, Neotel says it plans to open retail stores in Cape Town, Pretoria and Durban. “Based on input we believe we can expand our footprint, either directly or through franchisees,” Pandey says.
Neotel already sells its products through channels owned by Postnet, Altech Autopage Cellular and Samsung.
Neotel has built 200 CDMA base stations and a further 75 using the wireless broadband technology known as WiMax. The WiMax network, which recently went live, is aimed at mid-tier companies. The operator has launched an uncapped 2Mbit/s synchronous WiMax service for R3 500/month. Pandey says initial demand has been strong.
In the enterprise space, Neotel has confirmed it is going ahead with plans to build a 1000 sq m data centre in Cape Town to complement its facility in Midrand, north of Johannesburg.
It is also forging ahead with a project, with partners MTN and Vodacom, to build a national fibre-optic backhaul network. Construction has already begun on the Durban to Johannesburg leg with work on the Cape Town to Johannesburg line to start soon.
Neotel has invested R3bn in its network to date.
The company reported revenues of R2,2bn in its most recent financial year, to March 2009, and hopes to lift this figure to R3bn in the 2010 financial year. It doesn’t break out its profit numbers. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral