Molotsane to pioneer free phone calls

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

Former Telkom chief executive Papi Molotsane has re-entered the telecommunications industry with a project to bring free phone calls to townships.

His investment company, Synglo, bought a 60percent stake in wireless broadband service provider UniNet last week with Molotsane moving in as chairman and chief executive.

David Jarvis, UniNet executive director of technology, said the company was waiting for the approval of an ECNS (Electronic Communications Network) licence application for wireless frequency spectrum.

The company has launched the first leg of its Uni-Fi project where it seeks to set up wireless networks in more than 80 townships around the country providing handsets that pick up the UniNet signal.

Jarvis said: "We've started the rollout in Knysna. Customers can put their SIM cards into our handsets and they can call each other for free within the wireless footprint."

When a handset moves outside the transmission zone it picks up the ordinary signal from traditional cellular operators. The subscription costs R39 a month.

Jarvis said the Unifi project was budgeted at a cost of R1,6billion and would start rolling out in Gauteng within the next five months.

"We are looking to start moving into Pretoria townships of Soshanguve, Mamelodi, Garankuwa, Mapopane and Atteridgeville. Soweto is a big challenge because of its size, but it's still high on our list of priorities," he said.