UPDATE | Govt's giant mobile contract – previously with Vodacom – now split among providers

Business Insider SA
Government contract mobile service
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  • After five years, Vodacom has lost its exclusive contract to provide government departments with various cellphone packages and services.
  • The new contract, awarded on Tuesday, splits these services among MTN, Cell C, Vodacom and Telkom.
  • The tender included packages with uncapped data, and demanded that locally-made phones are included in packages.
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On Wednesday, Vodacom's contract to provide government departments with bespoke voice, data, and SMS packages comes to an end. It was awarded in 2016.

Government has decided to split the new so-called RT15 contract, which comes into effect on 1 April, among MTN, Telkom, Cell C and Vodacom. 

The transversal contract, which is facilitated by the National Treasury for services required by governmental institutions, allows all state entities to use bespoke mobile packages developed by the four provider.

The RT15-2021 contract is aimed at containing government’s mobile communication spend by offering discounted voice, data, and SMS rates.

In its tender, Government asked for national coverage and unmetered, unlimited data.

While the contract mitigates personal payments for personal data use, government employees will be afforded voice and SMS bundles at a flat rate.

In addition to the data, voice and SMS specifications, the contract requires the supply of mobile devices, accessories, and repair stations as noted by the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer (OCPO) within the National Treasury.

In a marked shift from the previous RT15 contract, which was awarded to a single supplier, Vodacom, the National Treasury has spread its demand across multiple service providers offering several packages.

Vodacom will still supply government with two mobile packages, including Always Connected Work Plus and Always Connected Anytime. MTN enters the fray with Enterprise Sharing and Business All Day plans. Cell C offers its Epic and Pinnacle mobile packages while state-backed Telkom supplies its unique Government Gold and Silver services.

All packages offer uncapped data without applying fair usage policy. Fair use policies are intended to limit overuse of uncapped services and throttle connections which are found to be in violation. Additionally, Closed User Group Voice Minutes and Closed User Group SMS are also unlimited.

Personal voice and SMS rates are charged according to the service providers’ respective package.

The RT15-2021 transversal contract also prioritises locally manufactured mobile devices, with Mara phones being offered by all four providers. Samsung, Huawei, and Apple devices will also be supplied by all mobile service providers.

“Value-Added Services”, including international roaming, Sim Swaps and caller identity services will also be facilitated by the providers.

Accessories to be supplied to governmental departments include power banks, charging cables, Bluetooth devices, headphones, and pouches, among others.

Note: This article previously stated that MTN had taken over from Vodacom as government’s sole mobile service provider. This was inaccurate, as MTN has not been appointed as government’s exclusive RT15-2021 holder and, similarly, Vodacom has been included in the new contract after completing the previous five-year term.

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