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Dual-SIM phones meet new challenges of mobile market

Smartphones have solved many problems associated with South Africans, but there are some issues that an app can’t fix. One such problem is cellular coverage, where some cellular networks have better coverage over others. For that, says YUDI RAMBARAN, there are devices, and they come in the form of Dual-SIM phones.

Technology and innovation are inextricably linked bedfellows that have made users accustomed to a constantly evolving landscape. New developments and features that are heralded as groundbreaking one day are met with little more than a shrug a few months, maybe a year later.

The electric light bulb: meh. The Internet: huh, OK. Electric cars: how soon can I get one? Self-driving cars: that’s not too far away, is it? Internet-enabled mobile phones: what do you mean you can’t access the Internet on your phone?

The smartphone in itself is an innovation that has evolved in the blink of an eye from a luxury item into standard fare for the majority of mobile phone users.

These devices have revolutionised not only usage trends but also the expectation of what they can do. So much so that the response to many everyday problems is: ‚Äòthere must be an app for that’. And invariably there is.

There are, however, some problems that cannot be overcome purely by software solutions.

The cost of calls and data usage is one. As is poor network coverage.

Overcoming these particular challenges inevitably requires users to find a provider that offers the best rates and coverage. Which are seldom available from the same network.

And it’s for this reason that South Africa has a mobile penetration rate in excess of 150%. It’s not uncommon for many users to own multiple SIM cards in order to take advantage of the best rates, or the best coverage if they tend to move around the country a lot.

Which in many respects speaks to their resourcefulness. But even more so a real need for the everyday consumer.

Swopping out SIM cards depending on cost and coverage advantages is therefore a natural choice for most mobile users. But what of the convenience factor or current inconvenience as many experience it?

Many mobile phone manufacturers, Huawei included, have answered this need by providing a second SIM slot that allow users to switch effortlessly between networks without having to swop out cards.

The Huawei Mate7 is a perfect example of how technology has been adapted to offer simplicity and convenience. The Dual SIM feature allows users to make calls on the network of their choice, depending on the SIM cards installed, and to receive new calls on either number.

The second SIM slot can also be used for a data-only card, or as additional storage if a Nano-SD memory card is installed.

The Dual SIM slot takes on a whole new meaning for international travellers who are able to use a local SIM card for local calls or data while still remaining in contact through their primary, home SIM number for incoming calls. The cost benefits are obvious as the user is able to avoid roaming charges.

Given the rise of smartphone adoption across Africa, where mobile devices are outstripping desktop computers in the device of choice for Internet access, we predict that the Dual SIM will become a preferred feature for many users.

This market mirrors many of the challenges that South African users suffer in terms of cost and coverage, and represents a huge growth opportunity for the industry.

We expect that this opportunity will drive the inclusion of Dual SIM slots in future in the same way that consumer needs have driven the introduction of features in other spheres of the technology playing field.

It is clear that the need and demand are there. It is now for manufacturers to respond to that, although it has to be said that network operators also need to play their part. Resistance to Dual SIM handsets has been based on a fear of losing revenue, which is largely unwarranted given the potential for growth and a clear trend of multiple subscriptions by Africa’s mobile phone users.

We expect that these arguments will soon be dispatched in the same way that previous technology innovations have been rapidly adopted and considered all but part of the mainstream.

* Yudi Rambaran of Huawei South Africa

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