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Telkom uses broadband as bait in new consumer strategy

Samuel Mungadze
By Samuel Mungadze, Africa editor
Johannesburg, 06 May 2021
Gugu Mthembu, Telkom chief marketing officer.
Gugu Mthembu, Telkom chief marketing officer.

Telkom has placed broadband at the centre of its consumer strategy, which the company hopes will help stimulate economic activity among millions of South Africans following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The telco says since the outbreak of the pandemic, traditional ways of doing business and accessing services have been severely disrupted, moving online and increasing the need for more affordable connectivity.

Gugu Mthembu, chief marketing officer of Telkom’s consumer division, says the telco plans to offer fibre broadband at less than its competitors, and this will be achieved by using different technologies: mobile, fibre and DSL.

She says Telkom has steadily been pushing its broadband services in recent months, including the period when the country was in lockdown due to COVID-19.

Telkom has made meaningful strides in the market, climbing up the ranks to become the third-largest mobile network service provider in the country, displacing Cell C, which Mthembu says, was due its competitive data-led offering.

The mobile operator yesterday announced its new influencer partners − Tumi Morake, Khutso Theledi, Leigh-Anne Williams and Martelize Brink − who will drive Telkom’s message on broadband accessibility and affordability of connectivity, targeting the home front.

“Telkom has connected communities and people since its inception; it is our goal to ensure communication is always clear, simple and inclusive. We have an array of products and services that truly enable a good quality of life for our consumers and we want to ensure there are no barriers in them having knowledge about and access to them,” says Mthembu.

“The primary thing from a consumer point of view is to make sure broadband access is available to all South Africans and we achieve that by using different technologies: mobile, fibre and DSL. We recognised last year during heavy lockdown that there were a number of people that still didn’t have access, but we had a lot of underlying technology.

“Probably some will ask why Telkom kind of brought back DSL in the last year. It was not so much of us moving back on our strategy, but ensuring with the infrastructure that already exists, we were empowering and enabling people to have access. So, broadband access is what Telkom’s strategy is centred on, and ensuring every South African is able to participate in the economy through broadband.”

Growing appetite

Mthembu notes the increased need for connectivity is driving Telkom’s broadband uptake across the country.

“On the mobile front, we grew in the last three years from a base of 4.5 million to about 15 million subscribers, and the bulk of the growth was driven by people who are data consumers, so translating the growth and knowing that most of them are using data shows the adoption of our broadband services is quite broad.”

Furthermore, Mthembu says, Telkom is using its LTE services to drive aggressive growth, and is also entering new markets.

She explains: “We have seen growth driven by the LTE portfolio, which made us take a decision to make it more accessible. If you recall, about 18 months back, it was limited to people who were buying through contracts; we then made it prepaid in the last year. We now have more than half a million subscribers on LTE prepaid taking up the services.

“We have also recently made it more accessible by reducing the price point, which used to start at R99, and bringing it closer to the rest of the subscribers at R49, giving people access to 2G of data plus 2G to use during night time hours. So, LTE is big driver of growth and mobile broadband, as well as a key driver of the growth.”

The telco has been steadily pushing its LTE services in the past year.

The company went on the offensive in Soweto last year, saying Telkom’s aim is to connect South Africans to its LTE services.

In April 2020, it unleashed a cocktail of LTE products to the market: SmartBroadband Wireless, prepaid LTE data bundle, uncapped LTE and prepaid LTE.

Then 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.