WHEN TELKOM LAUNCHED its consumer mobile offering – 8.ta – last year it promised to be disruptive in the South African market. Some analysts were sceptical about the public utility’s prospects and we recently saw the billions 8.ta has cost Telkom’s bottom line. But so far 8.ta has delivered on its promise of disruption and last month launched a broadband promotion that looked too good to be true: 10GB/ month for R199. When things look too good to be true, they usually are. But in this case 8.ta is delivering the goods. For now.
One issue 8.ta is non-committal about is the period of this special: it may carry on, it may not. So snap it up while it’s going, because they might cancel it next month. Or next week. Another – and more important – issue is the special is only accessible on 8.ta-owned network infrastructure. The network currently doesn’t cover all South Africa and relies on a roaming agreement with MTN for coverage. So before considering the offer you must confirm you’ll be using the connection in a coverage area. Telkom has a specific website for that – http://8ta.co.za/coverage/ i5promo/ – with coverage maps.
However, if you are in a coverage area, the connection flies and is highly stable. Tests run from my home north of Johannesburg averaged speeds of around 5Mbps for downloads and 3Mbps upstream. Its performances have also been good across ports – whether streaming video, accessing FTP servers or using Skype.
But my concern is whether or not 8.ta can handle contention ratios, where more people make their way on to the network. Unfortunately, there’s no way to test that. Telkom says it’s confident its network can handle high subscriber numbers, but only time will tell for sure.
Set-up was simple and the Huawei modem included with the deal is fine. You can, of course, use just about any 3G modem with this special, so don’t let anybody tell you need a higher speed modem because in reality you won’t experience the fully claimed network speed.
If you’re looking for a mobile solution while travelling then coverage will be a problem. But if you need a broadband connection for either home or office, you currently won’t find much better than 8.ta – and certainly nothing cheaper.