Koketso Mohotloane was born and spent some of her childhood in South Africa, and her teenage years in Ireland. She has been an active community, youth and student advocate, a founder of the South African Youth (SAY) Tribe dance group, and organiser of various events promoting diversity and marking holidays back home that commemorate significant historical moments, raising awareness of civil and human rights.
Now an independent business owner studying Management, Koketso has partnered with ACN – a telecommunications and essential services provider – to distribute, among other things – companion adaptors and contracts to customers in the UK, Ireland and elsewhere. She discussed this technology, which seems to be a VoIP service with a small hardware addition that has certain advantages over similar services like Viber.
Q. How is this digital service superior to the likes of Skype?
With dedicated Skype, WhatsApp or Viber, when you call places like Africa, data is very expensive for the users over there. It’s a rip-off. They don’t have deals like free local calls with every €20 on a Pay-As-You-Go package. Even if you convert the currency to 200 Rand or something – you have to top up a fiver a day to talk as much as you want. So they have data packages, but similarly, they’re extremely expensive.
The reason the ACN companion app is superior to these services is because whenever you’re using WhatsApp or Skype – and I mean Skype-to-Skype – you need the Internet – you need the data on both ends! With this device when you’re calling a family member or friend they don’t need these things. They could be using a button phone, they could be using a landline – you’re the only one who needs to use the app unless you want them to call you back with the app, which is very practical. I mean they can technically download the app and use it the way you use it. But the point is, it’s not necessary.
Q. We’ve checked the prices of Viber Call-Out and Skype, and the ACN service is competitive. Depending on the country you call, their rates can be ten cents-a-minute or more to a landline or mobile. Your package is less than €18 a month for 3000 minutes! But can you use the service on more than one device, or how does that work?
For security purposes, it’s exclusive to one device and the landline number, or the phone with the adaptor, connects to the app on your mobile device. But say you want to change phones, you can contact the help desk, logging in online from anywhere in the world, and we’re headquartered all over the world, by the way. The Netherlands, the United States, Poland, Mexico, South Korea, Australia and Canada. And you can ask to update your number or details. And this service can be used anywhere in the world too, from your mobile device – you don’t have to worry about roaming charges.
Q. Who’s your target market?
Our target market is anyone who can afford €17.89 per month for a service to many countries around the world or anyone who can afford £12.99 a month for the Europewide rather than the worldwide service. Anyone who travels, anyone who has family outside of Ireland or internationally. It’s good for international students from Europe, or from countries where data is more expensive than in Ireland.