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Telkom, you had me at ‘Heita’

Telkom, a company regularly the victim of vitriolic criticism for its monopolistic exploitation of consumers over the decades, might have finally contributed to what we have been craving for years.

For the last two years I have been ranting on ad nauseam about trying to bring low cost internet access to more people. My crusade involved informing more people about low cost local-only bandwidth, but the truth was that even with the abundance of free local bandwidth and later with the availability of uncapped internet, the problem was still that most people do not have fixed lines to use it.

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Internet penetration was only going to improve with lower costs from fixed-line alternatives. Change had to come from a wireless provider, and until now the high data costs of wireless made it entirely infeasible for the average South African to even consider using the internet.

Telkom’s 8.ta mobile network had its official launch party last night. Little did the tech guests realise that Telkom was about to make a massive stride in trying to shake its bad boy reputation and genuinely try to be a market leader rather than what it had been for so long: An obstacle. Telkom announced that it would undercut the current out of bundle rates by half and even more amazingly bring in bundle data costs down to 0.25c per mb.

With these new data costs it becomes entirely plausible for the average person to actually use mobile internet. One gig of data would cost R250, this undercuts all the other mobile providers by more than R140 for the same amount of data.

Now, it is yet to be shown how Telkom plans on running their show, but these new rates already are a hell of a good start. The consequence of this will be that other networks will also bring down their rates and try to be more competitive.

This is not just a good day for consumers, but also for everyone else in the South African tech industry. So in conclusion might I just say: Telkom, you had me at “Heita”.

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