Vodacom joins Vodafone partner network

Von Samantha Perry

Vodacom Group (Pty) Ltd. Wednesday announced that it has become a member of the global Vodafone Group PLC partner network. In terms of the agreement, Vodacom will market Vodafone"s global services in South Africa.

Vodacom will market the 3G Vodafone Mobile Connect Card, which Vodafone says is a high-speed laptop data card, in SA. It is expecting to make the card available before December.

Vodacom will also be launching Vodafone live! in SA early next year, by February or March, says Vodacom Group CEO, Alan Knott-Craig.

Vodafone live! will be the cornerstone of Vodacom?s consumer 3G offering. To this end, Vodacom has so far rolled out 470 3G base stations covering most of the major metropolitan areas.

The Vodafone live! offering includes a branded Vodafone handset, which gives subscribers access to the Vodafone live! portal and the content thereon.

?By becoming part of the Vodafone brand, we can offer multinational companies a seamless global service and value-adding corporate deals. In addition, we gain access to Vodafone?s global products and services,? says Knott-Craig.

Vodacom subscribers travelling internationally will now be able to roam across Vodafone?s networks in 26 countries, and its partners? networks in a further 13.

Vodafone and Vodafone partner subscribers will likewise be able to roam seamlessly in Vodacom?s coverage areas, the companies say.

While Knott-Craig would not reveal the value of the fee that Vodacom paid to join the Vodafone partner network, he did say that the cost saving that Vodacom will realize through having access to Vodafone?s global price book, enabling it to get equipment at better rates, would pay for the cost of the subscription.

A key driving factor behind the partnership, Knott-Craig says, is the speed of development in the mobile space, which, he says, mobile operators will not be able to afford to keep up with, in terms of the R&D spend required, unless operators form alliances such as his company has just announced.