Ambitions: New Neotel CEO Kyle Whitehill says the company will be rolling out a fibre network to business parks in a bid to become a major  player in the fixed-line market. Picture: SUPPLIED
Ambitions: New Neotel CEO Kyle Whitehill says the company will be rolling out a fibre network to business parks in a bid to become a major player in the fixed-line market. Picture: SUPPLIED

Neotel’s new CEO, Kyle Whitehill, is aiming for 15%-20% growth in enterprise clients in the next year in his efforts to reposition the company as a formidable player in the fixed-line market.

Whitehill joined Neotel in May after spending 15 years at Vodafone Group.

His appointment came after Liquid Telecom Group and Royal Bafokeng Holdings completed a R6.55bn acquisition of Neotel. Liquid Telecom Group is part of the Econet group of companies.

Liquid Telecom plans to rehabilitate the struggling Neotel. It has 5,000 business customers and about 100,000 consumer clients.

Since his arrival in May, Whitehill said, he had met some of Neotel’s key business clients, many of whom wanted the group to be stronger and sustainable. "Our ambition is to pick up a strong position in the fixed-line market," he said.

Neotel would invest significantly in its fixed-line network, improve the quality of its existing wireless network, strengthen its customer service and provide competitive pricing, Whitehill said.

Part of the investment would go towards the last-mile fibre network, deploying a fibre network directly to business parks. "We rely on partners for the last-mile connectivity, but we are building our own [network]," Whitehill said.

For consumers, Neotel would not be rolling out any new wireless network until it has reviewed its infrastructure and radio frequency utilisation, and identified growth opportunities in the mobile industry.

"We are not committed to new rollouts yet, but we have embarked on a programme to improve our network. Over the next two to three months consumers will see improvement," he said.

Neotel announced this week it had rebranded its enterprise unit as Liquid Telecom SA. 

Neotel would remain consumers’ go-to brand, it said.

Liquid Telecom Group announced on Wednesday it was raising $700m in long-term debt to invest in its operations in Africa.

Whitehill said Neotel had no immediate plans to add digital services such as video streaming to its portfolio, but did not rule out any future partnership with Kwese, a video-on-demand unit of Econet.

Deepti Dhinakaran, senior research analyst for the Digital Transformation Practice at Frost & Sullivan, said telecommunications operators were likely to make significant investments in the next three years in areas such as the Internet of Things, e-commerce, and big-data analytics to accelerate their digital transformation.

"It is evident that aggressive service diversification, increasing market consolidation and organisational restructuring are crucial to enabling South Africa’s telecommunications operators to transition towards becoming exceptional end-to-end digital services providers," she said.


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