Johannesburg - Local network operator, Vodacom[JSE:VOD] will be exploring new digital opportunities which include medication delivered to rural areas by drone and self-parking taxis.
The new opportunities were announced amid the firm’s rebranding with a new logo and tagline: “The future is exciting, ready?”
Vodacom’s chief of its Consumer Business Unit, Nyimpini Mabunda, made the announcements at a closed briefing on Thursday at Vodaworld in Midrand, Johannesburg.
He said the company was shifting its business focus strategy from just being a telecommunications network to now also adapting to technological advances.
“There are a lot of advances around the Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) that are not around yet, but when they happen, Vodacom will be there and it will be one of the first, if not the first, to bring these technologies to market,” Mabunda said.
During the presentation, Mabunda said Vodafone is rebranding internationally and SA was chosen as one of five markets in the world to carry out a local execution.
Mabunda said Vodacom had taken rebranding and international business strategies and adapted it to the local market as part of the company's vision for 2020.
Vodacom is exploring the possibility of connected vehicles such as taxis being able to park themselves - and is already partnering with German motor vehicle manufacturer BMW - and which will run off the network’s sim cards.
“There is a huge opportunity within the driverless cars industry, but manufacturers also need to partner with the right network,” Mabunda said.
Medication deliveries via drone
The company also said that it is working to provide medical services to people remotely through wearable devices that could possibly diagnose a patient within a rural area, who previously had to travel long distances to receive medical attention or could not access such facilities.
“We have been testing delivering medication via drone in very enclosed areas where drones are able to operate and we could see medication delivered by drones by 2025. We have to first look at legislation around operating drones,” Mabunda added.
Vodacom is now serving 36 million customers and Mabunda said the company could soon see data usage make up 50% of the company’s revenue.
On Wednesday the network provider announced that it will “significantly reduce” out-of-bundle prices for all customers from mid-October.
For pre-paid and customers on top-up packages, the out-of-bundle rate will drop by as much as 50% once the new 99c per megabyte tariff comes into effect on October 15.
"The out-of-bundle rate for post-paid customers was reduced from R1 per megabyte to 89c on October 1,” the company said in a statement.