Telkom Mobile eyes large-scale LTE offensive

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 13 Nov 2020

Telkom Mobile is eyeing an aggressive push of LTE products in its next phase of consolidating the gains it attained in the last six months.

In the coming months, Telkom Mobile is looking to reinforce its market position, using its LTE services to drive growth and enter new markets.

Telkom Mobile has been on a profitable path in its half-year results, experiencing 19% growth in mobile customers to 13.7 million, giving it critical muscle in the highly competitive market.

Revenue went up by 47.8% to R8.2 billion, while mobile data revenue increased by 53.8%.

In an interview with ITWeb, Serame Taukobong, CEO of Telkom Consumer, explained some of the most significant changes that propelled the company upwards.

Taukobong credits the benefits derived from the COVID-19 lockdown, saying his company’s LTE propositions are quite competitive and the telco will be aggressively punting its products to the market.

“It’s a matter of using all the arrows in our quiver to attack the market. If you look at the basics of mobile over the last year, we focused on our dealers to drive more quality acquisitions as opposed to quantity; we are not chasing numbers. We are focusing on the quality of acquisitions and it’s reflecting in the half-year results.”

He says the combination of managing prepaid acquisitions and driving LTE helped the company significantly, placing it on a growth path.

Telkom Mobile, which solidified its position as SA’s third mobile operator in the six months ending September, has 6 159 LTE sites, 9.6 million subscribers and R9.4 billion in revenue.

In SA, Telkom was the pioneering telco to mass-market its fixed-LTE products, before Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Rain entered the fray.

The telco has been steadily pushing its LTE services in recent months, including during lockdown.

In February, the company went on an offensive in Soweto, saying its ambition is to connect South Africans to its LTE services.

In April, it unleashed a cocktail of LTE products to the market: SmartBroadband wireless, prepaid LTE data bundle, uncapped LTE and prepaid LTE.

In September, it introduced a SmartBroadband SIM-only 1TB LTE deal for R999 that can be subscribed to on a 24-month contract with a device, or on a month-to-month contract.

The SmartBroadband 1TB wireless postpaid data offer includes 1 000GB anytime data per month.

Taukobong says: “Like most of the mobile operators, we benefitted quite significantly from the COVID-19 lockdown. There was an uptake of our LTE propositions, which led to the numbers we are seeing now. COVID-19 produced an interesting perspective for us.”

Serame Taukobong, CEO of Telkom Consumer.
Serame Taukobong, CEO of Telkom Consumer.

He says going forward, the strategy taken by Telkom to go on an LTE offensive is the “right one, it pushed us on our path, we will continue on that path”.

Telkom Mobile data traffic is up 81%, which the company attributes to the increase of people working from home and online schooling due to the COVID-19-induced national lockdown.

Telkom Mobile is now a notch up in terms of market rankings, trailing Vodacom and MTN, while financially distressed Cell C anchors the list of the four operators in SA.

Taukobong recently told ITWeb the company is aggressively pushing for growth, as it is faced with a massive decline in traditional fixed-line revenue.

It is also looking to exploit adjacent markets, like financial services, after it launched a life insurance business in August.

This week, it introduced a streaming channel, TelkomONE, which will host the SABC’s free-to-air radio and TV channels.

The five-year deal will see the SABC provide its content to Telkom on a non-exclusive basis. In exchange, the SABC will receive a carriage licence fee, as well as a share of the advertising revenue generated on the TelkomONE platform.