A tale of two launches

There have been two important launches in recent times in the mobile arena in South Africa and the difference between them couldn’t be greater.

The first one I’ll mention is Telkom’s launch of its lamely-named 8.ta mobile service. Interested parties watched the extensive Heita-branded teaser ad campaign and held their breaths to see what products and services the company would come up with, to compete with the three incumbent operators.

It has even been said that the company’s whole future might depend on the success of its mobile service, and whether it can convince enough users to make the switch. With that in mind, I was expecting it to take the chance of blow its rivals out of the water with aggressively-priced products.

In a distinctly underwhelming launch, it turned out that Telkom’s prices are a bit cheaper than the other mobile operators but not enough, in my view, to win it a flood of customers. It’s true that their price for calls from their mobiles to fixed lines are less than half the price of anyone else’s, but the rest of the call-types are generally just a few cents cheaper.

Ho Hum.

And so, from one launch where a company failed to produce a compelling offering, in my opinion admittedly, to another company which did. Cell C’s mobile broadband packages were launched with pricing so aggressive that they work out at a fraction of the cost of equivalent packages from the other operators.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I went along to their launch in Durban and have been testing the service ever since then. As I noted at the time, the full speed service is not available at my home in Waterfall, where I can only get the ghastly-slow Edge service.

The picture is radically different at a number of different locations around Westville and Kloof where I have managed to connect to the Internet with download speeds of 3-4 Mbps. This is not quite the 6-7 Mbps mentioned at the launch as the likely average, but it is still blazingly fast by South African Internet standards.

The contrast between it and my lacklustre 384 kbps ADSL connection at home is just not funny and these days I keep getting the urge to pack my netbook and big screen and head off to somewhere where I can connect.

Having never experienced fast Internet on this scale before, I didn’t really know what to expect and found that the experience of browsing the Internet and viewing websites didn’t feel all that much faster than before.

I began to notice a real difference with photography websites whose pages are crammed with pictures, but it wasn’t until I began to experiment with downloading files and viewing video, that the fast broadband really came into its own.

I downloaded a 40 MB program file from Tucows,com, for example, and was very impressed to see that it arrived in a shade over five minutes. I am a YouTube regular but have always had to wait for videos to download fully before watching it, but not on my Cell C connection.

I was very pleased to note that I could click the play button immediately and that the videos would play without stuttering and starting and, in fact, were downloading onto my machine faster than they were being played.

Like I say, I was extremely disappointed that the full speed HSPA+ service is not available from my home. Guess I won’t be ditching my ADSL line for a while but, once the Cell C coverage area expands, I’ll do it in a heartbeat.Watch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

Getting the service means buying a modem and data package and installing it on whatever computer (or computers) that you’ll be using it on. Installation is very easy and involves plugging the modem into a free USB port and letting the software install itself.

There is no risk involved in buying a package because, if it turns out that you are not within the coverage area, you’ll be able to get a refund from wherever you bought it.

Once the software is installed, connecting to the Internet is then just a matter of double-clicking the Cell C icon and clicking the connect button. The program also gives you access to your usage statistics and a number of other bits and pieces.

Not Ho Hum!



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