South African fixed-line operator Telkom has revealed further details of its new mobile strategy following its recent divesture of its stake in Vodacom, the country’s largest mobile operator. In an interview with Dow Jones Newswires, Telkom’s chief of strategy, Naas Fourie, confirmed that the operator is aiming to have a converged mobile/fixed-line offering commercially up and running by April or May next year, and is planning to have a roaming agreement in place with a mobile operator by the middle to second half of 2009. Fourie said that Telkom has already been approached by two South African mobile operators regarding a roaming deal. However, he added that Telkom did want to become a fourth national network operator in the country and would instead focus on corporate customers and technologies such as WCDMA. As previously reported, the company has reportedly invested ZAR1.7 billion in WCDMA technology, allowing it to offer mobile data alongside fixed and ‘fixed-wireless’ voice services.

Last week Telkom confirmed it is to divest its 50 percent stake in Vodacom by selling 15 percent to current partner Vodafone for ZAR22.5 billion (US$2.3 billion). Fourie told Dow Jones Newswires that Telkom plans to spin off its remaining 35 percent in the venture to its shareholders giving them half the proceeds from the disposal via a special dividend and keeping the remaining cash for infrastructure investment and possible acquisitions. Telkom has made a string of acquisitions recently aimed at strengthening its footprint in sub-Saharan Africa. It announced earlier this week that it is buying MWEB Africa, an ISP, for US$63 million.