New service offers SA free mobile calls

2012-11-21 10:20
A local company has offered South Africans free calls. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

A local company has offered South Africans free calls. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - A local company is offering cellphone users free calls in a service that should make voice calls more accessible.

"What makes DialMedia different is that it uses your normal telecommunications network. It uses Vodacom, MTN, Cell C or 8ta and it uses your normal phone process so you don't have to do anything different," Philip Bartholomew, co-founder of DialMedia told News24.

Unlike Voice over IP (VoIP), the service used the mobile networks to make calls, but DialMedia sells advertising space that pays for the call.

"What we do is we play you a 10 second audio message before your call connects and that is obviously sold as advertising - sponsored space - so we basically sponsor your call," said Bartholomew.

The service has already garnered 15 000 users and Bartholomew insisted that users do not incur costs while the ad is running. Users can also choose not to listen to an advert.


"This is just an app that sits in the background. You don't have to open it, you don't have to touch it. You're not charged any airtime for that time before your call gets put out to the network."

The free calls are limited to R1.50 in value and users will be charged for any call cost that exceeds that amount. DialMedia does not play ads on emergency numbers.

"The maximum rebate is R1.50 because we're charging the advertiser per spot. So if your call costs you R3 and you listen to an ad, then we'll pay you back R1.50," Bartholomew explained.

The application was developed in SA over the last two years and Bartholomew said that the high mobile call rates made the country an ideal environment to test run their offering.

"South Africa is an ideal market because we've got ridiculously high call costs. When you're paying R400 or R500 a month, that's a big chunk of your disposable income; if we can pay you back 70% of that, that's very attractive."

For users worried about spam and telesales agents calling after they register with the service, DialMedia has strict privacy policies and will not release numbers or e-mail addresses to third parties unless a user specifically requests information to be sent.

"We will never hand over your personal information unless you've given permission.

"When you've requested a call-back from an advertiser, then obviously we'll have to hand your telephone number over and you'll be called by them. But they're also under terms and conditions on how they can use that number," Bartholomew said.

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