New data-only mobile offering to Rain on Vodacom/MTN/Cell C parade

By Alec Hogg

Light bulbs weren’t invented by candlestick makers. Nor were cars created by those who built horse buggies. So we shouldn’t be surprised that those behind South Africa’s new telecoms disruptor come from outside the cell phone industry.

Launched yesterday in major urban areas, SA’s new data-only mobile network Rain is the brainchild of high profile former bankers Paul Harris and Michael Jordaan. In January they were joined by Willem Roos, founder and CEO of Outsurance.

With these financial heavyweights involved, the rumour mill suggested Rain was a disguise for a new digital bank. Yesterday’s launch of the fast (4G), well priced (5c per MB) and consumer friendly (never expires) mobile data offering shows it was no ruse. Instead of the banking sector, it’s Vodacom, MTN and Cell C that have a new competitor.

Harris, a former Maritzburg College head boy best known as a member of the trio which founded FirstRand, says “we have no idea what the take up will be, but we will learn to adapt as we go along.” I’ve got a feeling he is going to be very pleasantly surprised.