Telkom South Africa is poised to unveil its new mobile network on 14 October, becoming the country’s fourth cellular operator in the process. TechCentral reports that members of the South African media have been invited to an event at Lanseria airport, north of Johannesburg on 14 October, with the enigmatic invitation entitled ‘The time has come – Telkom is stepping into a new era with unlimited possibilities’, lending credibility to the theory that Telkom is finally ready to enter the market. Contrary to earlier rumours, the new business will not be branded Telkom Mobile; it will be called ‘Heita’, which is local slang for ‘hello’.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the fixed line incumbent applied for spectrum in the 1800MHz band from market regulator the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) in February 2008. Telkom is looking to become the country’s fourth mobile operator, following the sale of its 50% stake in Vodacom in November 2008, which prevented it from making a foray into mobile services under a shareholders agreement. In November 2009 the operator confirmed its wireless ambitions, stating that it would launch commercial mobile services before the end of 2010. The company, which will roam on MTN’s 2G and 3G networks outside of its predominantly urban coverage areas, intends to spend ZAR6 billion (USD858.2 million) on its infrastructure roll-out over the next five years. Telkom hopes that by embracing mobile telephony it will be able to offset the declining profits of its fixed line operations.