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Prepaid electricity rising to top of cellphone banking

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Buying prepaid electricity via FNB Cellphone Banking has grown to 62% as customers begin to see the benefit of using self-service channels for these types of transactions.

62% of all prepaid electricity purchases processed by FNB are made on Cellphone Banking. Prepaid electricity purchases via FNB Cellphone Banking have also seen year-on-year growth of approximately 30% in both transaction volume and value.

‚”Long gone are the days of having to travel to a retail store to top-up your electricity meter when the lights go off, instead customers can recharge instantly using FNB Cellphone Banking, whilst standing in front of their meters,‚” says Dione Sankar, Head of Cellphone Banking and Messaging at FNB.

Over the years banks have introduced various ways to bank, including Cellphone Banking, which allows customers to bank whenever and wherever they want to using their cellphone. In addition to traditional banking needs, FNB has innovated to provide other convenient services such as Prepaid Airtime, Data Bundles and Lotto ticket purchases.

‚”Cellphone Banking is a popular and convenient channel for most South Africans who may not have easy access to traditional forms of banking like Branches or ATMs,‚” says Sankar.

Cellphone Banking is proving to be popular because of its convenience, no complex setup process, ease of use and safety factor. According to the World Wide Worx 2012 Mobility Report, Cellphone Banking is the third most popular method of banking in South Africa after ATMs and branch visits.

‚”Banking is no longer an activity that takes hours out of our customers’ day to travel to an ATM or Branch. It assists customers in keeping in touch with the bank 24/7 and providing value added services such as Prepaid Electricity or airtime, checking balances and making transfers or payments,‚” continues Sankar.

Cellphone Banking is also very safe and convenient to use. Sankar notes that the bank has a rigorous and multi-layered approach to ensure that Cellphone Banking is safe. ‚”If customers do their part by not giving out any of their personal and banking information such as their PINs and passwords, there is no reason to worry that their money is not safe.‚”

FNB Cellphone Banking can safely and easily solve the following everyday transaction hassles:

THE HASSLE: In need of extra cash

The Cellphone Banking Solution:

1) If you, your employer or friend/family bank with FNB, Pay 2 Cell will allow the registered Individual Cellphone Banking customer to pay a recipient directly into their FNB bank account by knowing only the recipients cellphone number registered for inContact.

THE HASSLE: Forgot to buy airtime

The Cellphone Banking Solution:

You can Purchase airtime for yourself or someone else who is on the same network as you, even if you have no airtime, by simply dialing *130*321#. Choose Prepaid, recharge, mobile airtime and follow the instructions to recharge your account automatically.

THE HASSLE: Prepaid electricity runs out

The Cellphone Banking Solution:

Recharge without leaving your home by simply logging on to Cellphone Banking, selecting electricity and following the instructions to receive a sms containing the electricity recharge token.

‚”It is our priority to provide services that both simplify the lives of customers and reduce their costs of using financial services. Cellphone Banking does this by bringing convenience and savings to urban, rural and under-banked users,‚” says Sankar.

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Getting London wired

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Ruckus Wireless has been selected by Telefónica UK, which operates the O2 brand, to supply high-capacity small cell products for high-speed wireless services being deployed throughout London.

Already deployed throughout the busiest, iconic areas in central London, such as Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square, Leicester Square, Regent Street and Oxford Street, Ruckus SmartCell 8800s have initially been deployed to provide free, fast and reliable Wi-Fi to anyone.

Within a single, low-profile design, the SmartCell 8800 is the first carrier-grade, modular multi-radio system to integrate patented adaptive antenna array technology supporting multiple licensed and unlicensed radio technologies including: high-speed dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, small cell 3G/4G radios and 5GHz wireless backhaul. This gives Telefónica UK the flexibility to easily and economically offer high-speed Wi-Fi and cellular services in specific locations when needed.

‚”For O2, it’s all about us providing customers with fast and reliable connectivity where they need it,‚” said Derek McManus, chief operating officer for Telef√≥nica UK. ‚”Our vision is for Wi-Fi to be simply another access layer to our mobile core. Customers don’t really care about the underlying technology: they care about getting connected, fast and reliably. The introduction of small cells helps us to support these requirements and completely complements our mobile strategy by letting us push capacity closer to users in locations where it makes the most sense.‚”

‚”In telecoms there is now a mad race to the lamppost, and the first one there wins,‚” said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless. ‚”A big barrier in small cell deployment is simply securing the physical locations with the requisite power and backhaul to support small cells. Once physical assets secured, it becomes important for operators to exploit them with as much technology as they can. This means multi-function, carrier-grade products that are simple deploy, unobtrusive and massively scalable. SmartCell is one of those products and O2 is one of those operators taking a lead in this race.‚”

After extensive evaluations of wireless suppliers, Telef√≥nica UK selected Ruckus and its SmartCell system. ‚”It all really boiled down to who had the best Wi-Fi for carriers and the most forward-thinking strategy to integrate Wi-Fi within existing and future cellular infrastructure,‚” said McManus.

‚”Such partnerships prove that industry players are starting to see the benefits Wi-Fi is bringing to their services,‚” adds Michael Fletcher sales director for Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa. ‚”We are likely to continue to see more industry players embracing this transformation globally, and hopefully locally as well as operators look for solutions to cater for their growing customer base.‚”

Beating the Backhaul Dilemma

‚”A major challenge with small cell deployments is how to reliably backhaul traffic from potentially thousands of small cell nodes without breaking the bank,‚” said Robert Joyce, chief radio engineer at Telef√≥nica UK.‚”

Telefónica UK effectively eliminates this problem by meshing traffic over highly reliable 5GHz Wi-Fi mesh links between nodes using Ruckus Smart Mesh technology. Smart Mesh uses advanced self-organising network (SON) principles with Ruckus-patented adaptive antenna arrays (BeamFlex) and predictive channel management techniques (ChannelFly). Combined these technologies create highly resilient, high-speed Wi-Fi mesh backbone links between nodes that automatically adapt to changes in environmental conditions.

Thought by many to not be possible, Smart Mesh has demonstrated to deliver reliable backhaul for licensed cellular and unlicensed Wi-Fi traffic in both line of sight and non-line of site environments.

‚”Ruckus Smart Mesh technology is proving to offer a cost-effective, reliable and flexible alternative to conventional approaches,‚” said Joyce. ‚”With Smart Mesh, we are running fiber to just one of every five nodes. This has proven to be a huge benefit in reducing capital and operational expense with the added bonus of reducing the time to market.‚”

Big Improvements with Small Cells

Small cells represent a new architectural approach for injecting much needed capacity into service provider networks. Small cells are miniature base stations that combine licensed and unlicensed radio technology with wireless backhaul to deliver lower powered wireless signals much closer to mobile users. This results in better signal coverage, improved voice quality and higher data performance.

Small cells enable operators to provide a premium quality mobile signal where it was never previously economic, such as indoor environments and remote outdoor locations. They also enable operators to meet the burgeoning demand for mobile data, by multiplying the data capacity of the macro network at a fraction of the cost.

With the Ruckus SmartCell system, mobile operators gain a capacity boost from LTE small cells, cutting costs and complexity by co-locating and combining them with Wi-Fi access points, sharing site-lease agreements and backhaul. The integration of Wi-Fi and LTE small cells within the cellular core also helps operators optimize network utilization across the radio access network, providing a further improvement in performance, and creating a seamless experience for subscribers.

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Pre-paid data at 15c/MB

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Cell C has announced the extension of its existing 15c/MB postpaid and prepaid data promotions until the end of October.

The company has also lowered the price of its entry-level 500MB data offer from R49 to R45 and while stocks last, this offer also includes a free 7.2Mbps speedstick.

‚”What our customers want is affordable, high quality data services. Our promotional data packages offer customers data at very competitive in- and out-of-bundle rates. Our in-bundle rate remains at the bottom 5 cents per MB*, and we have reduced our out of bundle rate from 39 cents to a much more competitive 15 cents per MB,‚” says Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig.

Knott-Craig says customers can expect more exciting announcements in the coming weeks.

Table of promotional pricing (prices include VAT):

Postpaid

Standard rate

Promotion

OOB rate

500MB + 7.2Mbps speedstick

R129 p/m

R45 p/m

15c/MB

2GB SIM only

R279 p/m

R99 p/m

15c/MB

2GB + 7.2Mbps speedstick

R299 p/m

R119 p/m

15c/MB

Promotional postpaid offers are all on 24- month contracts only

Prepaid

Standard rate

Promotion

OOB rate

24GB SIM only or 24GB SmartData Voucher

R1 999 once-off

R1 299 once-off

15c/MB

24GB + 21.6Mbps speedstick

R2 999 once-off

R1 999 once-off

15c/MB

The data on promotional prepaid offers are valid for 12 months (2GB every 30 days X 12)

* (applies to 2GB and 24GB)

*

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