Telkom rival Neotel opens shop in Gauteng

Robert Laing

Robert Laing

Households finally have a cheaper alternative to Telkom, but only in some parts of Gauteng.

Second network operator Neotel unveiled its consumer offering yesterday, based around a wireless desktop phone, which provides high speed Internet access.

Phones are available at PostNet outlets, bundled with two-year contracts ranging from R299 to R999 a month depending on data transfer speeds and usage limits.

Mukul Sharma, head of Neotel's consumer business unit, said the phone was unique in the world, resulting from market research showing South Africans wanted something "easy to buy, easy to use".

Though bulkier than cellphones, the devices are similar in that they do not require stringing a line to your house and run on rechargeable batteries.

"Battery power gave us the unforeseen advantage that our customers can stay online during load shedding," Sharma said.

The contracts include "free" minutes between Neotel subscribers.

Local calls between Neotel subscribers beyond the bundled time are billed at 17 cents a minute, night or day unlike Telkom which charges 38 cents a minute during office hours. Neotel is undercutting that by charging 34 cents a minute to call a Telkom phone during office hours.

There is no offering for households that do not want Internet access, but Sharma said one would be launched at a later stage.