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    January 7, 2014

    Deeper look at Telkom Mobile – A contender to stay?

    Heita, it’s 8ta… Since the launch of 8ta in October 2010, and the subsequent rebranding to Telkom Mobile during the first quarter of 2013, many are still debating whether Telkom’s mobile network is standing ground with market competitors.  Do they really offer up-to-the-standard customer service, network coverage, competitive prices, bundles and more?  I will attempt give a brief description of my extended experience with them.

    In November 2013 I entered my third 24-month contract with Telkom Mobile after satisfactory service, signal quality and absolute competitive pricing during my first two contracts.

    With the launch of 8ta, Amith Maharaj said that 8ta will provide the platform for South Africans to communicate more.  It was said that 8ta would launch competitive prepaid pricing to encourage voice and data usage.    In Telkom Mobile’s early days , pricing was definitely not a problem with numerous firsts when it came to cheap voice and data contracts.   It was relatively easy to get any type of contract, being pre- or post-paid.  When “real life after varsity and no more funding from the parents” stared me square in the eyes, I found that 8ta’s 3s voice contract and 10Gigs-big data contract was the best fit for me.  Telkom offered me more bang for my buck with a Galaxy S2 included in my voice contract.

    During my first two years of using Telkom mobile I never had voice network coverage problems – 8ta constantly roamed MTN’s network.  My travels took me all over South Africa, and thanks to MTN’s widely distributed network coverage, I never needed to borrow someone else’s mobile device to make any phone calls.

    The 10Gigs-big contract however only worked within Telkom’s own mobile networks – During the first few months and even though I lived well within the “3G coverage” area, as clearly indicated on their internet site, I struggled to maintain internet connection.  I used to lose signal quite easily, especially during the early evening hours.  This was luckily only a short lived problem and I enjoyed the reliable and fast (up to 18Mbps download speeds) internet connection.  The only snag still was that, even though I could boast of quick internet connections in all major centres, my travels to smaller towns would usually have included the use of my MTN prepaid data card as my Telkom data card was rendered useless.

    Telkom mobile and Vodacom has during the final quarter of 2013 been in a feud over “limitless” or, as Telkom mobile refers to it, “Completely Unlimited” contracts. Both contracts claim that unlimited voice calls can be made, with unlimited sms’s etc.  Telkom however offers a completely unlimited data option where Vodacom only offers 2 GB/month.  At first glance, Telkom’s offer completely outweighs Vodacom’s offer based on price and off course, who would pay R500 a month more for a contract that does not include “unlimited” data.

    Once again, one should realise that, even though it is widely advertised that one would receive unlimited data, it is important to recognise that the unlimited data offer is only available on Telkom mobile’s own network.  As soon as you move outside of Telkom’s own coverage areas, you again find yourself roaming on old faithful’s network – MTN.  All voice and sms charges are included in the “unlimited” contract costs, but when roaming, you will need to buy prepaid data.  At first glance this is not a problem, since you go to your smart device’s settings, enable data when roaming and purchase prepaid data expecting that, when you return to Telkom’s network and your smart device indicates that you are no longer roaming, your roaming data will not be used.  Unfortunately this is not the case and even though you are back on Telkom’s network, your purchased data will be used up before you will continue to use the “free” data.

    I often commute between Johannesburg and Potchefstroom, of which the latter is outside of Telkom’s coverage area.  I requested whether Telkom would expand their small coverage in Potch and to my surprise representatives form Telkom informed me that they would expand their network in no time.  Unfortunately, after 3 months of constant phone calls I was informed that the network will only be expanded during the latter parts of 2015.

    In the meanwhile I used to buy “roaming” data whenever I travelled to Potch only to discover that I am wasting money on data and that when I am back in Joburg, I am and not getting the full benefit from the unlimited data.  I therefore bought myself a new MTN SIM-card and now always carry an additional phone with me to use as a Wi-Fi hotspot when roaming outside Telkom’s coverage areas.  The additional device is truly a hassle, but, still worth the efforts if one travels between coverage and non-coverage areas.  This is the biggest let-down of Telkom mobile’s contract. However, even if one needs to buy an addition 2GB of data, the combined contract and data cost would still be less than Vodacom’s “limitless” contract.

    In conclusion, it is only fair to state that, even though the Telkom’s data coverage is limited, their pricing and service is excellent and I will continue to support Telkom as long as their deals stay as competitive as they are presently.

    Picture credit: MyBroadband

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    • JB

      Thank you for the post. I am also using Telkom Mobile’s 10gig for R199 contract. In addition to the problems you point out with regards to coverage, I also find it troublesome that “personal hotspot” on Ipad is not available on the network.

      • TM

        The hotspot is working now, you’ll need to update the operator settings. I use the 10Gb contract and have it working

    • Charl Norman

      I’m not sure if there’s space for a 4th operator in our market. Especially with a few VMNOs also doing the rounds. Telkom Mobile really need to distrupt the market with a radical new contract or starter pack OR unbelievable deals on top handsets.

      Great post!

      • Theunis Jansen van Rensburg

        I also can’t see them make any headway unless they drastically change their pricing scheme or make some exclusive deals on handsets.

    • James Robertson

      Just my own experience: I use mtn/cellc/voda and TM (3G). Have two phones, ipad and one of them is dual sim. Hence why I use all networks. With out a doubt TM is the fastest and most consistent. They have all the area’s covered that I frequent. I believe this is because all the other networks are over burdened, while TM remains relatively unused. Would love to get my hands on some statistical data to prove this theory. Thx for the post

      • James Robertson

        This was just Data by the way. In terms of voice my cell c is the worst by far, Voda and MTN good, and I have no experience with TM

        • Sean David Coetzee

          Have to agree with you on the Cell C comment……..

    • Sanjay Daya

      all i know is that i cant wait for my cell c contract to end. Burnt twice now. Rather pay the premuim on MTN

      • WF v niekerk

        Sanjay, I agree.

        I was with Cell C way back, but also found that reliability is a problem. As I understand Cell C roams on Vodacom… Make sure that the roaming is activated on you device in order to make use of Vodacom’s network whenever necessary.

        Furthermore, I could really recommend TM and with MTN as their roaming partner, why pay the premium if you can reap benefit from their network while getting a better handset for the same price?

    • Fourhundredkg Bobbejaan

      Switched from Vodacom’s promo data deals to Telkom Mobile’s. Telkom Mobile somehow managed to gobble my bandwidth allocation about 6 times faster than Vodacom. I’m back with Vodacom.

      • John

        I am currently on Vodacom weekender 120 per minute and want to move to Telkom Mobile, R400pm which includes 250 min(per second billing) plus unlimited sms, wifi, 5Gig data pm and Samsung S4 mini instead of Vodacom 120 anytime per second package with Blackberry Q5 for R330 pm

        Do you think the Telkom Mobile coverage is reliable enough and value for money?

        Looking forward to your reply

    • Razmataz

      Excellent post. Been thinking of getting a TM package. I hear even the voice quality is better than the others.

    • Dina

      Can you please give us an update? Has the situation improved or stayed the same since this blog? Thank you

      • Theunis Jansen van Rensburg

        Hi Dina.
        No one here still uses Telkom Mobile, but I will try and follow up elsewhere.

    • Kamren Adams

      Yes I’m major fan of positivity…I have the 20Gb data deal for R199,x2 best choice I made…but as far service goes I don’t have words to explain…don’t ever ask me to rate out 10 lol,for many reasons.Friendly Advice