Vodacom's WiMAX pricing comes under fire

Ken Wieland, Contributing Editor

August 27, 2008

1 Min Read
Vodacom's WiMAX pricing comes under fire

South African mobile operator Vodacom, in partnership with WiMAX licence holder Wireless Business Solutions (WBS), has announced it will launch WiMAX services in October.

Vodacom, which is 50 per cent owned by Vodafone, is targeting high end consumers, SMEs and large corporates with its WiMAX portfolio and hopes to lure ADSL and leased line customers away from Telkom, which incidentally owns the other 50 per cent of Vodacom, but is understood to be looking at an exit strategy.

Vodacom’s proposed WiMAX tariffs could, however, prove a stumbling block to achieving that goal. The lower priced WiMAX service from Vodacom is R489 ($63) per month, which offers a best-effort 512Kps symmetrical service and a 3GB usage cap. Telkom, however, offers 512Kbps – with a 3GB data usage cap – for R479 ($60) per month over its own WiMAX network.

For business customers, Vodacom’s most expensive ‘assured rate’ service comes in at R1,039 ($133) per month for symmetrical 1Mbps and a 10GB data allowance. Telkom’s 4Mbps ADSL service, with a similar data usage allowance, is priced at around R 1,100.00 ($140) per month.

Vodacom justifies the higher prices on the grounds that the data speeds, unlike ADSL, are symmetrical. They are also hoping to steal a march on Telkom’s ADSL service by offering much quicker installation times.

While Vodacom has deployed a nationwide 802.16e Mobile WiMAX network comprising 120 base stations, there are no immediate plans to offer true mobility services over WiMAX. The South African mobile operator currently has access to 15MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum via its partnership with WBS.

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