Although the interconnect saga is still not finalised, voice and data specialist Skycall is set to deploy its Eezicall technology – formerly known as Skybox – offering users calls via its mobile VoIP and interconnect solution from 50c a minute.
The roll-out, to 4 500 vendors, will go ahead no matter what the outcome of the cellular phone interconnect saga may be.
"The lower interconnect rate will in any event benefit our clients as we will pass on the savings as the cost of interconnects are lowered between the networks," says Martin Botha, head of operations at Skycall.
Eezicall will create call communities, enabling the public to phone at 50c a minute from anywhere in South Africa – and, ultimately, anywhere in the world where an Eezibox is in use. It also offers huge savings to any international call destination and SADC countries.
The new mobile Eezibox solution, which comes with Internet connectivity, is part of Skycall's social responsibility and entrepreneurial development program.
"There are more than 20 000 mobile GSM containers and spaza call shops deployed in South Africa by Vodacom, MTN and Cell C," says Botha.
"However, we believe our solution is more cost-effective and will be more popular to use as we take cheaper call solutions to the people – and do not sit and wait for them to come to us. Additionally, we can roll out anywhere in Africa, and in the world for that matter. We will create Eezicall communities, enabling the public to phone at 50c per minute from one Eezibox box to another, anywhere in the world."
Skycall plans to appoint 15 master sistributors throughout South Africa on a regional level, who will be responsible for the distributors and vendors in those regions. The master distributors will then appoint distributors in each region who will train, support and motivate the Eezicall vendors. Each distributor will have a maximum of 30 vendors to support.
"This number is limited to ensure that the vendors are not left without any proper support and training at any time. The Eezicall vendor solution is ideal for the creation of job opportunities, especially woman as it requires very little training and operational skills," says Botha.
"By appointing the master distributors and the distributors we are ensuring a high level of training and support – as well as creating a national telephony footprint.
"Essentially, we'll be bypassing the interconnect fight by deploying our own technology, which could eventually be deployed in the rest of Africa and other parts of the globe. We have already had inquiries from Nigeria, Mozambique, Cameroon, the DRC and Ghana," he says.
Skycall is also taking optimum convergent solutions to the market via its locally-developed EEZIBOX, which, if deployed at a spaza shop, tavern or school, automatically creates Internet hotspots.
"This means we are taking mobile Internet and voice to the communities, especially in areas where there is no phone or Internet access."
Besides cutting call costs dramatically, the units have their own in-built rechargeable power source, allowing them to be used without electricity. They can even be charged from a car battery – making rural deployment easier.
"We follow the 'deployment anywhere' approach – as long as there is a reliable 3G connection," says Botha. "These units run off our existing network and work off a pre-paid basis, meaning there is no risk to the entrepreneur."
Modular in design, the entire unit can fit into a back-pack, and can operate virtually anywhere. The system is fully maintained and will be supported by competent technical staff via appointed distributors.