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Telkom’s 8ta set to change SA’s mobile landscape

South Africa’s mobile landscape changed dramatically last night with the launch of 8ta, the country’s fourth cellular network operator. Announcing simple and affordable products and services at a launch in Johannesburg, 8ta executives claimed their services will be regarded in South Africa as the one that will ‚get people to talk more.‚

Managing Executive of Telkom Mobile (branded as 8ta), Amith Maharaj, told guests, ‚We will provide the platform for South Africans to communicate more. I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is the start of a new era in mobile phone communication in South Africa.

Consumers will at last have a real choice.‚ Mr Maharaj promised that 8ta products would offer more value than any other network provider. For the first time in South Africa, all prepaid customers will benefit from free talk time to any network every time they receive calls from a mobile phone ‚ 1 free second of airtime for every 3 seconds of call received. This benefit is available all day, every day. Further, calls from 8ta to fixed line will cost 60 % less than typical market rates for similar calls, and there will be a flat rate of R2.50 per minute to over 100 international destinations. Additionally, when you send 5 SMSs in a day, 8ta will give you 50 bonus SMSs at no extra cost to use that same day.

The innovative network will also provide prepaid internet customers with an out-of-bundle rate of R1 per megabyte, while prepaid data bundles can be purchased for as low as 25c per megabyte.

8ta has constructed 800 base stations across the country, and plans to construct a further 3200 base stations over time to improve coverage and connectivity. The services have been built on an end-to-end all-IP 2G and 3G network, which is easily upgradable to LTE (4G). To ensure top notch customer service and quality of experience, a new call centre and new IT systems have also been implemented. Telkom Group Acting CEO Mr Jeffrey Hedberg said the launch of 8ta was a watershed event. ‚We are able to mobilise the reliability of fixed-line and the agility of mobile to provide products that South African people really want.‚

The launch revealed who was behind the high-profile Heita! campaign, which has intrigued the nation for the past weeks.

Telkom SA Managing Director Ms Nombulelo Moholi said: ‚We wanted to create a brand that builds upon Telkom’s heritage around quality and innovation. At the same time, we realised the need to be simple and to be authentically South African.‚ With tariffs that are easy to understand and buy, and with no hidden costs, 8ta looks forward to serving more of the population more of the time.

Additional technical information

The 8ta network will provide voice and data products and services over a unified 2G / 3G network. The state of the art network leverages a number of key technological advantages including software definable radios, remote electrical tilt antennas, an all-IP backhaul network, and a tailor made subscriber management platform.

The billing systems deployment ensures that all our customers, and not only those using prepaid services, have access to real-time usage information so that they can understand their consumption moment by moment, without unexpectedly high bills at the end of the month.

The Radio Access Network supports HSPA, is configured for downlink speeds up to 7.2Mbps, and can be provisioned to support download speeds of up to 21Mbps. In addition, the network hardware allows for a seamless migration to LTE (4G). A further advantage of the selected dualband network infrastructure is the significant power efficiency realised over other legacy systems (30% improvement). This translates into a far more cost effective, sustainable and environmentally friendly network deployment. The network architecture deployed is fully IP-based, from base station to core. It allows maximum efficiency of the backhaul while providing the relevant prioritisation of mobile service flows, translating into a better quality of service and overall experience for the customer. The 8ta network aims to further differentiate itself from its competitors by offering services never before seen in South Africa. In support of this the Core Applications and Services network makes use of cutting edge technology that is IP based, enabling flexible, innovative and quick-to-market services.

A national roaming agreement will see 8ta’s network augmented by MTN’s national coverage footprint at launch. This arrangement will support 8ta in extending its reach of services such as voice, 2G and 3G data, SMS, MMS and USSD to more than 96% of South Africans. In addition, 8ta will also offer a full international roaming service through another established and experienced international service provider when it launches post-paid services next month.

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