MTN has partnered with KaiOS to launch the world’s first 3G smart feature phones in Africa.
Rob Shuter, Group CEO of MTN, said that he was “super excited” about the announcement and that the smart feature phone – which runs on the KaiOS Operating System - would be a wonderful bridge device for people to migrate from 2G to 3G and then 4G networks.
He said that whilst MTN serves 220 million customers across 21 markets, only 72 million are regularly using the mobile internet and it is imperative that the industry finds innovative ways to connect them.
At the ITU event in Durban in September MTN announced its CHASE strategy to help bridge the digital devide.
The acronym stands for
- Handset availability and affordability
- Affordability of data services
- Service bundling
- Education and ease of use
Shuter said that whilst the company had made much progress, a major hindrance has been the high cost of data capable devices.
KaiOS has minimised the data requirements on both the OS and content (apps) side. Its operating system already powers more than 40 million Smart Feature Phones in Canada, the US and India. The rollout of KaiOS phones in India has increased the number of feature phones in the country, with KaiOS overtaking Apple’s iOS to become the second-most popular devices after Android handsets.
Shuter said that the new phone would launch in Q1 2019 and would be available across most of MTN’s markets. The landing price for MTN is $20 is and the pricing for customers will depend on the country.