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Wednesday, 13 November, 2002, 17:51 GMT
South African mobile network beats targets
South Africa commuters run to board a train
Cell C's keeps its deals simple to attract new users
South Africa's newest mobile phone operator, Cell C, has said it has signed up about 1 million subscribers in its first year, beating its launch targets.

"We had a good year," said Talaat Laham, chief executive of Cell C, whose parent firm is Middle East phone company Saudi Oger.

Cell C is the third mobile phone network in South Africa, arriving on the scene after rivals Vodafone and MTN.

Last month, Saudi Oger said it would use the lessons of Cell C's launch to extend its operations into other developing countries, particularly Pakistan and Egypt.

Targeting poorer users

Cell C hopes to capture 25% of South Africa's mobile phone market by 2007, said Mr Laham.

"We are not the cheapest across the board, but our overall rates are very competitive," he said.

It had aimed to sign up 800,000 subscribers in the first year but an aggressive advertising campaign for simple, low-cost packages enabled it to beat that target.

However, it remains a minor player compared to the combined total of 10 million subscribers held by its two bigger rivals.

The majority of its 1 million customers are in the cheaper, pre-paid end of the market. Ninety percent of Cell C users are on pre-paid deals rather than contracts which tend to be more lucrative and to provide a more stable customer base.

Cell C said it has lost 30% of its pre-paid subscribers and 15% of its contract customers during the year.

In September, the mobile operator delayed planned price rises in order to keep on building its market share.

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