Striking a balance

SA’s Rain Drops Data-only Play To Challenge Mobile Market Incumbents

By  |  May 8, 2023

Rain, a South African telecoms operator, has ceased to be a data-only service provider, having with a fresh entry, become part of the country’s competitive mobile network industry. 

The Rainbow Capital Investments-backed company has launched a new 4G mobile network, one which it says comes with high-definition voice calls, data, SMS, and internet connectivity. Rain joins Vodacom, MTN, and Telkom in what is for many reasons a highly competitive market. 

Rain launched South Africa’s first data-only 4G network in 2018 and in 2019 unveiled the country’s first standalone commercial 5G network, expanding from major metropolitan areas to smaller regions. Its 5G network reportedly covers over 7 million households. 

In 2022, the telco acquired network spectrum during a dramatic auction with regulators and, as such, now has the means to make its 4G services more encompassing.

Now, as a fully-fledged mobile network operator, and the fourth player in an overly busy turf, Rain is earnestly joining the competition. By combining its 4G and 5G offers into a single package dubbed rainOne, it is making it possible for customers to access a single monthly bill for all their devices, both home, and phone. 

In an official statement, Rain CEO Brandon Leigh said “The convergence of a home and mobile voice and data offerings in one affordable plan is an innovation we are confident will appeal to South Africans”. 

“We recognize that our customers have family members, so, with rainOne, we are catering not only to their need to access the internet from home but also outside on their mobile devices,” Brandon noted. 

It is important to recall that at the business end of 2022, Rain was looking to get acquired by Telkom as it looked to form a coalition with enough firepower to challenge the dominance of Vodacom and MTN. The proposal was tailored to indirectly prevent MTN from buying Telkom to become an even bigger rival. 

In January this year, Rain and Telkom abandoned talks to join [their] operations, as the latter pulled out of the negotiation process. With the acquisition now off the table, Rain’s move to further penetrate the market and go head-to-head with incumbents is justified. 

“Now customers have another option for mobile services from a provider that has already established a strong reputation in the home internet market. The expansion of Rain’s network, in terms of 5G coverage and spectrum acquisition, indicates that we are serious about being a major player in the mobile market as well,” Brandon said.

Image Courtesy: Reloadly

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