Telkom has launched its new FreeMe mobile data plan, which offers an unparalleled bundle of 4G/LTE data in addition to free WhatsApp, Viber, and SMSes.
In recent months, network rivals such as Vodacom, Cell C, and MTN have slugged it out in heavyweight matches in attempts to best each other in terms of data – and in particular – WhatsApp offerings. Now, Telkom Mobile has entered the arena with its new FreeMe offering and has substantially undercut its rival contenders.
Telkom’s new FreeMe offering provides six bespoke mobile offerings at price points ranging from R99, R149, R299, R399, R599, and R999 ZAR per month.
Each plan offers a varying amount of data, while offering 50 free SMSes per day, free instant messaging calls on WhatsApp, BBM, and Viber, free TM & TF calls, as well as free calls to other networks in SA. The offerings are broken down below:
The FreeMe plan essentially undercuts offerings from the service’s rivals; the lead capped package offers 20GB 4G/LTE data, 1500 minutes of free call time to other networks (excluding free on-network calls), 50 free SMSes, zero-rated (uncharged) access to WhatsApp, BBM, and Viber, and free access to over 6,000 Wi-Fi hotspots.
Telkom’s CEO for consumer and small business, Attilla Vitai, told TechCentral in an interview that zero-rated Skype and FaceTime would follow at a later stage.
The FreeMe offering comes in the wake of Telkom’s decision to move away from charging for voice calls and line rental fees and instead focus on data products; primarily its ADSL, Fiber, and 4G/LTE offerings.
On the decision, Telkom’s CEO Sipho Maseko stated that “What we realise(d) is that our customers use voice less, and use data a lot more…”, before offering that, in the near future, Telkom ADSL and Mobile customers would be able to exchange their data cap between the two services. “œThis means that true convergence between fixed and mobile services will start to come through”, Maseko stated.
Telkom have launched the offering after the process of “re-farming” – that is, re-allocating its radio frequency spectrum in the 1,8Ghz band. Previously, that band was used exclusively for 2G services – indicating Telkom’s intent on marketing its 4G products and LTE availability.
Telkom have further clarified that the FreeMe plan will further work should users roam off Telkom’s network and onto MTN; however, the roaming agreement will only see FreeMe customers benefit from a 2G connection and not full 4G/LTE.
The move is likely to cause a stir among rival mobile operators. Many of Cell C’s latest offerings have been built around the inclusion of a R7.50 ZAR WhatsApp fee, while Vodacom and MTN have recently pushed for the over-the-top instant messaging application to be regulated in South Africa.
What are your thoughts on Telkom’s new FreeMe mobile data offering? Is this the shakeup South Africa needs? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below!