South Africa
In rural Namibia

GSM payphones

Card versions

Card payphones connects to the GSM network. Three different models adapted according to user requirements. Can be package to different mechanical requirements.


  • Operate from 12V power supply � car battery or solar panel.
  • GSM dual frequency.
  • Receive and make emergency calls without using a card.
  • Use a GSM simcard (Credit card size) to dial.

Coin version


  • Operate from 12V power supply � car battery or solar panel.
  • GSM dual frequency.
  • Receive and make emergency calls without using coins.
South Africa Telkom

There are more than 180,000 payphones in South Africa consisting of three different types.  They are the coin phones, which are blue in colour, the card phone and the combination card/coin phone, which are both green in colour and look very similar.   Coin phones represent approximately 50% of the total.

All coin phones are Global269 enabled.  The card phones and the combination phones cannot access the Global269 network.   In most cases, you will find coin phones co-located with the card phones.  A few very remote or high crime areas do not have coin phones.  

To place a Global269 call on the coin phone you do not need to deposit a coin.  To place a Global269 call, lift the receiver; wait until the display reads, �INSERT COIN, OR DIAL TOLL FREE NUMBER.�    Dial the international access code �09� followed by your Global269 number.  You will be able to interact using the keypad.  Be sure to allow the phone to display the above message before starting to dial or you may experience keypad problems.   If you find a coin phone that does not work, call the service centre number on the phone label and report it to Telkom.

After dialling the Global269 number, the coin phone will display �NO COIN REQUIRED.�  

Card phones and Combination phones cannot access the Global269 network at this time.  If you attempt to use a card phone or combination phone your call will be blocked.   If you have inserted a card, it will not be debited.

Telkom has installed a number of DIGI remote access server (RAS) cards to improve payphone service. The solution which was supplied by Tellumat, a channel partner of SPS South Africa, converts an analog payphone signal so that it can be switched digitally through Telkom's network direct to a front-end processor.

Tellumat has over 100 000 line-powered card payphones under licence from Anritsu of Japan installed at Telkom. According to Clive Pink, General Manager of Payphones at Tellumat, the solution was supplied after the previous analog system showed signs of reaching capacity.

"The traditional way of connecting payphones to the front-end server was via a modem, similar to the way we connect to the Internet," says Pink. "But a limiting factor of the payphone is that it is line-powered and operates on very low power, so the modem is a relatively slow V.23 modem. More recently, we introduced a V.22 modem into the field that improves data transfer speeds but still falls way short of the V.90 modems we use to connect PCs to the web."

After meeting with Telkom in 1997, Pink set out to find a cleaner, more integrated solution based on the ISDN Primary Rate Interface (PRI).

"Some time elapsed before I discovered the DIGI RAS30 and RAS4 cards," he says. "I had several failed attempts to convince ISDN card OEMs to change their software to accommodate the rather proprietary V.23 implementation in our payphone. All failed and then my search led me to DIGI via SPS. I was pleasantly surprised to have a visit from the DIGI development manager and sales manager - something was different: not only the determination of SPS management to help find a solution, but senior DIGI representatives as well!"

Pink says DIGI altered its firmware to accommodate the nonstandard version of V.23 used in the payphone.

"After some time we successfully integrated our payphones and front end server with the DIGI RAS30 card. It was a long road to my vision of a PRI interface for our FES, but in January 2000 it became a reality. DIGI has also recently completed an auto-recognition feature on the RAS30 cards to enable either a V.22 or V.23 payphone to call into the FES."

Pink says DIGI's readiness to address the SA market and solve the problem of the non-standard implementation of V.23 modem, and the personal involvement of SPS management, was the key to the solution. "Without their efforts we would not have it on the table today," he concludes.

GSM Payphone PubliCell_Specification (PDF Document)
  • Public payphone designed for GSM networks
  • Supports multiple payment (IC card, GSM SIM card, optional credit card and/or coin operation)
  • Dual band - GSM 900 & 1800 MHz
  • Supports voice, SMS, fax and data calls
  • User features include phonebook, SMS and voicemail with SIM card
  • Operator dependant services e.g. directory enquiries, emergency calls
  • Internal battery gives up to 4 hour talk time after power failure
  • Fault reporting to management system using SMS/GSM data call
In the face of growing demand for accessible voice communications in developing markets, Tellumat has developed a new dual-band GSM pre-paid public phone aimed at providing an affordable entry into the world of cellular telephony.

Tellumat�s history in payphones dates back to 1996 after winning a contract to supply Telkom SA with outdoor cardphones manufactured under license from Anritsu Corporation, Japan. To date, Tellumat have supplied 105 000 of these units to Telkom as well as 35 000 indoor coin payphones.

Tellumat have now gone one step further and developed a GSM core, making it one of the most advanced payphones on the market - a cost effective solution for wide and secure access to a broad section of the population for operators rolling out GSM networks into Africa.

GSM provides a means of rapidly addressing requirements for universal access and is set to grow in Africa from 2% of the world market in 2000 to nearly 4% by 2004, a growth of 40 million subscribers. Advanced pay-phones can provide broad communications access to even the poorest communities.

In the new payphone, Anritsu and Tellumat have combined the latest GSM and payment technology to offer GSM and payphone operators a product with low cost of ownership and multiple payment options aimed at fuelling growth of GSM in Africa and other emerging markets.

The GSM payphone enables operators to rapidly offer telephony to large populations with either cash, prepaid IC cards or, as users move up the value chain in search of improved features, SIM cards that offer the user a telephone number, phone book, voicemail and SMS capabilities.


Zimbabwe payphone (Ascom Nordic)


Our company MPCELL is based in Pretoria (South Africa) and manufactures GSM public phones. We have been in existence for a year with a record rollout by a new company of about 4000 units in less than 12 months.

Our strength lies in service, as we understand the demand put on companies from their customers.

We outsource research and development to the experts who do similar work for VODACOM, MTN and CELL C. Our focus has been to exceed customer expectation with regards to quality, delivery time, and software responsiveness to functionality and ease of use.

We are a very flexible company. Our three products have been ICASA approved, VODACOM and MTN accredited.

Training and full support will be offered to Companies taking this opportunity

The public phone industry is one of the fastest growing industries currently worldwide.

Therefore we would like to introduce this business to your company.

We would be glad to hear from you at your earliest convenience in order to discuss more about this opportunity.

Should you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours faithfully,

                             Johan Pretorius � MPCELL



2.     BATTERY.

3.     ARIEL.




The system can use an external 220VAC source, or run from a 12V battery. 
A company that was looking to develop an Iridium-based payphone that would be backpack mounted for use in Sub-Saharan Africa. Not sure if it ever worked out, but the picture was pretty interesting. The solar panel provided power while the antenna on the woman's back is an Iridium fixed antenna that is typically used in maritime applications.

Tim Johnson