Telkom talks up fixed-mobile convergence
Operator says new business bundles will offer customers a single bill for fixed and mobile services. By Duncan McLeod.
Telkom Business is moving closer to full fixed-mobile convergence and unified communications by bundling fixed and mobile products and offering customers a single bill.
The company plans to launch two dozen fixed-line and mobile product bundles in the next few weeks and on Wednesday introduced three new converged bundles priced between R469/month and R969/month.
The R469/month product includes a 1Mbit/s ADSL line, Wi-Fi modem and 10GB of fixed data. It also provides 10GB of mobile data, 25GB of online data storage and 3G dongle. The R969/month product provides line rental, 150 free fixed-line calls, call management services, 1Mbit/s ADSL line, 10GB of fixed data, Wi-Fi modem, a BlackBerry Curve 9900 smartphone and a 16GB BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, 230 minutes of on-network Telkom Mobile calls, 60 minutes to other networks and unlimited free calls to one fixed-line number.
Telkom Business MD Brian Armstrong says fixed-mobile convergence is a natural focus area for the operator, which launched its own mobile network – branded as Telkom Business Mobile for business customers and as 8ta for retail consumers — in 2010.
“We have 95% market share in fixed voice, but if you consider converged ICT, we have about 16% market share, so there’s room to grow,” he says. “We know where we want to play is at the nexus of fixed-mobile and telecoms-IT convergence.”
Armstrong says Telkom-commissioned research shows that nearly three-quarters of calls made from a mobile device are from home, the office or some other fixed location, like a coffee shop. It therefore makes sense, he says, for people to divert most of their calls away from the mobile network and over a fixed connection, which offers significantly lower tariffs than routing them over a mobile network.
“Customers can now get fixed and mobile services on one bill from one service provider,” Armstrong says, adding the new products allow business customers to “mix and match” fixed voice and data products with mobile voice and data products. The company will launch a “bundle builder” on its website next week.
“Personalisation is very important,” he says. “No customer is the same as the next. Every customer has a slightly different set of priorities.”
He says Telkom Business will offer a single point of contact for purchase and assurance, giving customers one point of contact for mobile and fixed services.
It is also offering split billing, allowing companies to ensure that employees pay part of their telephony bill.
As part of the converged bundles, the company also plans to launch shared Sim bundles soon, meaning customers will be able to buy, say, 50GB of data or 50 000 voice minutes and share these between multiple Sims held by employees.
Armstrong says the introduction of the bundles forms part of the company’s roadmap to “unified communications”. He says Telkom Business will build some of these products and skills in-house, but it is also considering acquisitions.
He says deploying large-scale unified communications solutions requires systems integration skills. The company also needs to build its local-area networking competency.
“I’m not saying we are going to acquire all that. Some we will do organically, some by acquisition.” — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media