Telkom Mobile has extended its Sim-Sonke prepaid plan to roaming partner MTN’s network, meaning subscribers can use the aggressively priced plans in many more parts of South Africa.
Previously, Sim-Sonke was available only on Telkom Mobile’s network, which is much more limited in scope next to MTN’s.
The deal means Telkom Mobile customers can make off-network calls — calls to other networks — at 75c/minute on per-second billing, the cheapest standard rate in South Africa, anywhere in South Africa where MTN has coverage. On-network Telkom Mobile calls are just 29c/minute.
Telkom Mobile’s network is concentrated in urban areas, although the company claims to cover 60% of the country’s population.
This latest move appears well timed to address holiday demand. In December, South Africans tend to travel to be with family, often in more remote parts of the country where Telkom Mobile has no coverage.
Telkom Mobile says the decision to extend the Sim-Sonke plan as part of the MTN roaming deal was motivated in part by telecommunications regulator Icasa’s decision to reduce mobile termination rates — the fees the operators charge each other to carry calls between their networks.
Icasa wants to slash the rate from 40c/minute to 20c/minute on 1 March 2014, and give Telkom Mobile and Cell C preferential rates that disfavour their larger rivals, Vodacom and MTN. The move is expected to draw heavy fire from the two bigger operators.
“The move by the regulator helped make it possible to offer Sim-Sonke nationwide,” says Telkom Mobile commercial product development executive Kagiso Moncho. This is despite the fact that there are still four months until the rates are due to come down and the quantum of the cut has not been etched in stone.
“People from government, take note. We’d be able to offer even lower prices to the people. Surely that is a good thing for the people and the economy? The rates charged by our competitors are more than most operators in Europe, yet GDP here is nowhere close to Europe,” Vitai said at the time. “This really is a very key move and an important move for the economy and for Telkom.” — (c) 2013 NewsCentral Media