Telkom launches FreeMe, aims to disrupt the marketBy Ryan Noik 22 July 2016 | Categories: news
Telkom officially threw down the gauntlet to mobile operators this week, launching its new FreeMe offering at a glitzy dinner in Hyde Park.
A complete overhaul of its mobile product offering, FreeMe prioritises data, and according to Telkom Consumer CEO, Attila Vitai, offers customers smartphone plans that “liberate them from everything they’ve ever hated about their network.”
This, he continued, included not being able to control their monthly spend, tiny terms and conditions at the bottom of their contracts, high peak rates and pricey extras that customers neither want nor need.
When free is really free
When it becomes available on Monday, users will be able to choose the amount of data they want from a simple plan, available in six data sizes. The kicker is that the plans include free texts, free high quality IM calls, free calls to Telkom Mobile and Telkom Fixed Line numbers and free Wi-Fi across all six plans, and, free calls to any network as well on the two top end products.
More specifically, the plans range from 1, 2, 5 and 10 GB data packages, priced at R99, R149, R229, and R399 respectively. For even more data hungry users, there is then a 20 GB plan for R599 or unlimited data for R1 000.
Vitai explained that younger users don’t actually use their smartphone to make voice calls, but instead rely on WhatsApp, Viber, FaceTime and Skype to make calls, and that most of its customers were data hungry. To this end, Telkom has apparently opted to embrace how its target audience wants to communicate, rather than try force them into using voice and data in pre-ordained ways.
Sting like a bee
“We have reviewed our spectrum capacity to allocate it more efficiently to achieve greater coverage and deliver faster data speeds and ultimately drive Over The Top services. This has allowed us to bypass the interconnection fees charged by other networks to offer our customers true value innovation. With zero rated calls over WhatsApp, Viber and BlackBerry BBM – our customers now have access to over 1 billion call options worldwide and over 6000 Wi-Fi hotspots absolutely free,” he elaborated.
Furthermore, he added that postpaid and prepaid customers will enjoy the same price, with no hidden costs or preference given to one market over the other. He also touched on the issue of coverage, reassuring that Telkom will continue to increase its coverage and will be building more base stations to give users better service.
The company certainly isn’t pulling punches, the new initiative will be launched in several advertisements this coming week which take a jab at how typical smartphone plans have been run. Chief amongst them is the concept of paying less as long as you make calls during the wee hours of the morning, and the habit the industry has of layering on unwanted extras that users have to pay for as part of their contract.
In a nutshell
Whether FreeMe will be a major disruptor to the industry and have users of the big three networks flocking to switch as Telkom hopes, remains to be seen, but clearly the company isn’t sitting on the sidelines anymore.
“We think this will change the game of mobile telecoms in SA; for us this is just the first step as we have other exciting things to launch this year,” concluded Vitai.
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