South African fixed-line operator Telkom has launched a WCDMA pilot network that will initially focus on providing ‘fixed-wireless’ voice and data services, prior to a move to ‘nomadic’ voice offerings later this year. In a statement, the company says the WCDMA voice services are at a pilot stage in Gauteng, where 38 base stations have been deployed. Telkom plans to have in excess of 200 base stations activated by March 2009, supplied by Huawei, primarily focusing on the Gauteng, Cape Town and Durban metropolitan areas.

Telkom is restricted to offering ‘fixed-wireless’ services, rather than full mobile connectivity, as its 50:50 joint venture with Vodafone – in the country’s mobile operator Vodacom – currently bars it from entering the region’s mobile market. In recent months Telkom has been in talks with Vodafone over disposing its stake in Vodacom in an effort to help achieve its mobile aspirations, although no outcome has yet been reached. Telkom is the subject itself of a takeover bid by a consortium led by the Mvelaphanda Group, but recent talks between the two parties have been suspended because of “current market conditions and pricing considerations.”