This week saw the Swazi incumbent SPTC relaunch its fixed line product as it struggles to retain customers against the much larger mobile operators. It is also absorbing the consequences of a Commission of Enquiry report (forwarded to to the Minister of Tourism and Communications, Thandi Shongwe) which identifies irregularities that have brought the company close to collapse.

Mobile phone operators have cost the Swaziland Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (SPTC) thousands of customers.This has greatly affected the government parastatal in terms of revenue base. At present it has only 45 000 subscribers to the fixed line system yet the mobile phone service provider, MTN Swaziland, boasts over 200 000. According to SPTC Marketing Manager-Consumer Mbongeni Zikalala"As a fixed-line network operator, we are facing stiff competition from mobile in all facets of telecommunication.

“Empirical evidence indicates that mobile is largely eroding fixed-line voice traffic as more and more people switch from fixed-line to mobile due to its mobility and strong prepaid proposition. We no longer call places but people. Fixed-line is about calling a place while mobile is about calling people."

He was speaking at the launch of the 'Now you're talking' campaign last week. The purpose of the campaign is: to increase scratch-card sales, encourage usage and reinforce customer loyalty.

The promotion is categorised under three different packages that could be seized by participants under each support promotion of the campaign namely; 'Iyashaya Dream On' (1st chance), 'Call to Win' (2nd chance) and 'Minutes for Miles' (3rd chance).

Zikalala warns that the latest figures indicate that the fixed-line system faces the danger of extinction as more people preferred the mobile phones. "The main challenge is to identify a 'quick wins' programme to arrest this downward trend as a matter of urgency. It is against this backdrop that we seek to introduce a customer loyalty programme to serve as a switching barrier to curb the migration of customers from fixed-line to mobile," Zikalala says.