Telkom set to offer voice for free, focus on data products

Telkom’s CEO Sipho Maseko has stated that the company is set to focus on selling data products, and will start to offer voice services for free.

In an interview with CNBC Africa, Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko has stated that the company is set to launch integrated data products in coming months, and will begin to offer voice services for free.
In the interview, Maseko stated that “œWhat we realise(d) is that our customers use voice less and use data a lot more”, citing the reason behind the company’s coming refocus towards data products.
Read: Deeper look at Telkom Mobile ““ A contender to stay?
Maseko clarified that Telkom would slowly begin to offer voice services for free, while the company refocussed its efforts on data products that would unify its fixed and mobile services.
Most recently, Telkom’s results for its financial year (ended 31st of March, 2016) showed that the company suffered a staggering loss of over 20,000 fixed-line subscribers; its largest decline since 2001.
The decline was prominent across the board on all fixed-line products Telkom offers; with post-paid offerings suffering a 3.8% decline, pre-paid a 22.6% decline, and payphones a massive but unsurprising 40% decline.
The company’s fixed-line penetration rate decline from 6.6% to 5.8%, with fixed-line traffic decreasing from 16.3 billion minutes per year to 14.9 billion minutes per year.
Telkom has cited the decline as a result of competition from mobile services, copper theft, and “tough economic conditions”.
Maseko’s comments seem prudent in this regard, as the CEO stated Telkom would pivot towards offering data-focussed products with free voice services with the view of giving consumers the ability to “manage their spend differently”
Maseko further clarified that the company would enable its subscribers with both fixed and mobile services to move data allowances back-and-forth between fixed broadband accounts and mobile accounts, stating that “œThis means that true convergence between fixed and mobile services will start to come through.”
Thus far, the company nor Maseko has provided a detailed timeline of when the planned changes will occur. Given the fact that the company increased its broadband subscriber base by 2.2% in its most recent financial statement, the move would seem a positive one on paper at least.
Read: The time for free internet access in South Africa is now
What are your thoughts on Telkom’s decision to move to offering voice services for free? Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Follow Bryan Smith on Twitter: @bryansmithSA
Sources: MyBroadband & CNBC Africa