Johannesburg - The South African telecommunications industry has entered a new era with the launch of the second national operator - officially named Neotel - and the launch of its first services to the wholesale telecommunications market.
The new name and logo of the new operator, which will bring competition to the fixed line industry, was unveiled at a prestigious event in Kyalami, north of Johannesburg by the company's Managing Director Ajay Pandey on Thursday.
Pandey outlined the planned rollout of telecommunication services based on leading-edge technologies and reiterated the company's promise to introduce initial services for consumers by March 2007.
The company has been trading temporarily under the name SNO Telecommunications and the launch of the Neotel brand and the start of Neotel's first telecommunications services mean that fixed competition in the industry is now a reality.
Neotel promises to change the telecoms landscape in South Africa by introducing high-quality telecommunications services at reasonable prices in accordance with the aims of the Electronic Communications Act.
Pandey said Neotel's strategic objectives were to become the preferred provider of leading-edge telecoms in South Africa, to reduce the cost of doing business in the country, to bring the benefits of communications to the second economy and to support and promote developing industries.
He said Neotel has secured access to the relevant Eskom and Transnet infrastructure, including almost 10 000 kms of optical fibre backbone within metros and across the country and would offer a variety of fixed and wireless services.
"We anticipate a cumulative capital expenditure of more than R11bn in the first 10 years of our operation," he added.
Neotel announced the launch of its wholesale international services less than nine months after receiving its PSTS licence in December last year. Leveraging the global telecoms network of VSNL International, one of the world's largest, Neotel has brought the global Internet into South Africa, allowing South African carriers, for the first time ever, to connect directly to the core of the internet, it said.
Neotel's wholesale voice services include carrying international calls from mobile network operators and VANS in South Africa to their destination countries and handing them over to one of more than 400 international partners of Neotel for termination to the dialled number.
Similarly, Neotel will carry international voice calls destined for South Africa from almost 200 countries, bringing them into South Africa, and handing them over to the terminating telecom operator in South Africa.
Neotel has also launched its IP transit services - essentially wholesale international internet connectivity for local ISPs.
Benefits to flow through to end users
Although the wholesale services are meant for other telecom players, the benefits will flow through to the end users as well. Businesses as well as residential telecoms users connected to services that use Neotel will now find that their incoming international calls, even on their mobiles, are of a much higher quality, Neotel said.
Calling line identification (CLI) numbers will be displayed from more than 35 countries, whilst improvements to voice quality will include elimination of echo as well as voice delay. Similarly, on outgoing international calls, users will experience call completion in fewer attempts, even to remote countries, in addition to experiencing a high voice quality. End users are also expected to experience greater reliability and quality for their international Internet bandwidth.
Neotel represents the combined strength of India's Tata Group, through Tata Africa and its subsidiary subsidiary global telecommunications player VSNL, Telecom Namibia through Communitel, Two Consortium, the BEE shareholder Nexus Connexion, and the telecommunications arms of state-owned enterprises Transnet and Eskom.
"We believe that our entry into the South African market will open up new opportunities for businesses, and create new opportunities for South Africans on the global stage. One such opportunity lies in the Business Process Outsourcing space, an area in which we at Neotel are committed to delivering offerings in line with the industry's needs. We hope to trigger a telecommunications revolution that has the potential to change the economic landscape of South Africa," Pandey said.
Today's launch of wholesale services will be followed by the start of the rollout of services to businesses in December this year. Corporate services will begin with a limited number of customers in the major metros - Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban.
Neotel expects to have its first residential and SMME customers connected by the end of March next year. These voice and data - including high speed internet and true broadband access - services will also start in the major metros but will gradually expand across the country, to reach up to 80% of the country's population
In the meantime, many consumers and SMMEs will benefit from Neotel's presence in the wholesale telecommunications market. Wholesale customers of Neotel will be able to pass the advantages of Neotel's service quality and price benefits on to the end users.
Neotel's launch was attended by South Africa's Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri and Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin.
Source : http://www.fin24.com/Companies/Introducing-Neotel-20060831