South Africa’s Rain, which describes itself as the country’s mobile data-only network, may not be data-only for long. Its major investor, African Rainbow Capital (ARC), has reportedly said that Rain hopes to launch a full mobile service this year.
As website Connecting Africa points out, Rain began as a data-only provider, providing fixed internet services to homes and data-only mobile SIMs. However, it acquired blocks of spectrum in the 700MHz and 2600MHz bands at a government auction in March 2022 and now, ARC says, plans to launch a mobile service that includes voice.
ARC, which focuses on opportunities in the South African and African financial services and diversified investments industries, says Rain is well positioned as a low-cost data provider that already has spectrum in contested areas but that “the acquired spectrum will allow Rain to improve its coverage at a comparatively low cost”.
As we reported, Rain was the first South African network to launch 5G – in February 2019. Indeed, ARC suggested at a recent financial results presentation, Rain has enjoyed subscriber growth in the 5G space and better ARPU than anticipated.
This is quite a confident statement of intent after the failed merger attempt with number three mobile network Telkom, which we reported in January.
How the mobile offering will be delivered or priced is not clear but, according to ARC co-CEO Johan Van Zyl, it will make the company "a more holistic competitor and not just a niche player".