Mobile voice disruption planned for SA market

 ·7 Mar 2012
John Holdsworth

AppChat, a new mobile company founded and run by former ECN founder and CEO, John Holdsworth, is planning to significantly reduce the price of mobile voice calls – and drastically improve the quality of cellular calls in South Africa.

Holdsworth is confident that his latest venture will disrupt the South African mobile market with innovative offerings and lower rates.

The company is funded by investments from both Holdsworth and a number of other backers.

Holdsworth told MyBroadband that AppChat subscribers will be able to call any number in South Africa, and internationally (both fixed line and mobile), at much lower costs and higher levels of quality than the current offerings from the cellular operators.

“The price of mobile voice calls will start to plummet in the next 24 months, just as we have seen with data,” said Holdsworth.

Holdsworth said that traditional GSM voice is nearing the end of its product life cycle, and gradually will be replaced by 4th generation voice over IP (VoIP) technology.

Holdsworth said that AppChat will offer two options to consumers and businesses:

  • An AppChat SIM (where AppChat will be a virtual mobile network operator)
  • An AppChat application which will allow contract customers who cannot switch to AppChat to enjoy lower voice call prices

AppChat will have products in both the prepaid and postpaid (contract) market, offering big savings when compared to current mobile voice rates.

Holdsworth is confident that AppChat will enjoy significant uptake, explaining that South Africans always appreciate a great value proposition – particularly one that lives up to its promises.

It is not only about price, though, and Holdsworth said that their service will offer excellent voice quality – which includes support for high definition voice.

AppChat is currently in negotiations with three major telecoms players, and Holdsworth expects to make a number of announcements soon.

Holdsworth is not particularly concerned about incumbents like MTN or Vodacom cutting off his number ranges.

The AppChat CEO said that it is definitely anti-competitive to block competitors, and that he will immediately file a complaint with the competition commission if any of his numbers are cut off.

Holdsworth highlighted that it is better for everyone to work together, and that he looks forward to working with the likes of Vodacom and MTN, rather than fight them.

Holdsworth expects to launch the company’s first offerings within the next four to six months.

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