Vumatel CEO Dietlof Mare told Gadget the company is offering a single product for emerging markets – referring to low-income areas – in an effort to strip out as much cost as possible. At this stage, customers in specific areas can order a 20Mbps, uncapped package for R399 per month, with no installation costs. However, he stressed that this was not intended for affluent suburbs or people who are already connected.
“The prepaid fibre-to-the-home offering is not available across our 1Gbps capable network, but rather focused on the emerging market network where rollouts are currently being initiated.”
The first area to be connected to the new service, the low-income suburb of Mitchells Plein in Cape Town, saw its proof-of-concept activated in July 2019. To date, more than 1,000 homes have activated their fibre leveraging the prepaid platform, with another 40,000 expected to be added in the next four months.
“It is a direct response to listening to the communities as well as understanding buying behaviour, where traditional fibre price points and contracts might otherwise not be feasible,” says Mare.
The company, which has a footprint of more than 600,000 homes passed across South Africa, anticipates that there are at least a further 700,000 homes in emerging markets that it can reach, and that the prepaid platform is a key enabler of this rollout.
“We believe that this platform and the flexibility of a prepaid model has been one of the key successes of our pilot with the Mitchells Plain community. And it is a model will definitely roll out as we embark on our emerging market strategy,” says Mare.
The prepaid platform gives customers uncapped, unlimited internet access for a 28 day period, that can either top-up automatically, or by purchasing additional access as and when finances allow. Enabled through participating ISPs, the platform is geared towards giving customers more control over their budgets and Internet access. Access to the network can only be purchased once an area is live and through the ISP of choice.
“We believe that an innovative approach, and willingness to look beyond a postpaid model was a critical consideration in shaping our emerging market strategy. And this platform is a game changer, for opening accessibility to emerging market communities.
“All communities throughout the country should have the opportunity to experience high speed, reliable connectivity, and if the largest inhibitor is cost and access, then it is our responsibility to find a better way.”