TELKOM’S NEW FREE-ME PACKAGES – WILL IT REALLY FREE YOU?

July 22, 2016

On 25 July, Telkom will make its new packages, called FreeMe, available to the market. They’re innovative and they’re making waves. But are these packages right for you?

What is FreeMe?

FreeMe is a set of new data-centric contracts offered by Telkom. Customers choose what data bundles they would like to receive and then simply pay for off-network calls to Vodacom, MTN, or Cell C customers. And that’s it – everything else is included, with free on-networks calls, 50 free SMS’s a day, and free use of Telkom’s WiFi hotspots. Oh and you’ll also get free calls and messaging on WhatsApp, BBM, and Viber (limited to 2GB of usage a month). And if you go for their top packages, which offer 20GB of data or an unlimited amount of data, you’ll also receive free calls to other networks (limited to 1,500 or 3,000 minutes respectively).

Out of bundle rates are also pretty good, with 29c/MB Out-of-bundle data rates, 69c per minute for voice, and 30c for Out-of-bundle SMSs.

Prepaid customers shouldn’t despair – this is available to them as well, and it’s offered on a month-to-month basis for postpaid customers who are looking for SIM-only deals.

So, is this revolutionary?

It’s great to see cellphone contracts finally moving in the right direction. While the other operators are complaining about Over-The-Top (OTT) usage on their network (like WhatsApp, Skype, and Facetime services who use networks data but don’t pay them for the pleasure), Telkom is going in the opposite direction and in fact endorsing them – offering packages where the network won’t even make a cent off these services.

Data is also the man of the hour and Telkom knows it. Consumers around the world are making less voice calls on their phones and using exponentially more data every year. It’s great to see a mobile operator who understands this and is making data the focal point of a new set of tariffs, while still catering for certain voice usage.

The packages rates, dictated by the size of the data bundle you want, are very competitive. It is however interesting to note that Telkom has, for the most part, been offering these data bundle rates for a while already. They are now just tacking on free WhatsApp and on-net calls as well. But when you bring it all together, it becomes quite an aggressive offering, perhaps only competing with the likes of Afrihost Mobile’s Voice packages.

Out-of-bundle rates are a continual thorn in everyone’s side, and at Tariffic we see bills soaring into the tens of thousands of Rands due to exorbitant Out-of-bundle rates charged by some of the other networks. It’s refreshing to see Telkom look out for the consumer, and offer a cool 29c Out-of-bundle for data. Yes, this is no way as cheap as adding a bundle but it’s much cheaper than other operators’ comparable rates (with the exception of Cell C’s high-end Pinnacle packages). The Out-of-bundle call rate on FreeMe packages is also incredibly competitive, coming close to Cell C’s 66c/minute rate.

Telkom are batting for the consumer by offering month-to-month SIM only packages for these contracts. There is no reason why you would have to sign up for a 24-month contract if you’re not getting a phone with your contract, and Telkom gets it (Cell C also offer month-to-month SIM-only deals).

Overall, this is an aggressive offering by a hungry player who is nipping at the heels of the big dogs. It will be interesting to see how the market reacts to this. MTN are set to launch a new, flexible package in the near future, and Vodacom don’t seem to have any interest in competing when it comes to the prices of their offerings. But what about Cell C? I suppose the ball’s now in their court, unless they want to risk handing over their “consumer champion” crown to a new operator?

How much will FreeMe free me every month?

These packages, along with the associated handset deals, will be available on Tariffic’s website as soon as they’re released. So head over to Tariffic.com to find your perfect FreeMe package, based on your unique behaviour, and see exactly how much it’ll save you every month.

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