How to start a telecommunications company in South Africa

How to start a telecommunications company in South Africa

We use telecommunications on a daily basis, this makes it a very lucrative business. There are not that many telecommunications companies in South Africa. This is a guide on how to start a telecommunications company in South Africa.

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The term “telecommunications” is very broad and covers totally unrelated things. Of these things the most popular are cellular services, data services, radio stations, television networks and home security. It’s highly unlikely that you will have the budget to tackle all of the above, it’s often best to find a niche and focus on it.

This makes it hard to make this guide to be tailored to your niche, the steps that you need to take to start a radio station are very different to steps needed to start a mobile data provider. Please comment at the end of the post if you want a more specific guide on a certain niche. The barriers to entry to any telecommunications business are high.

Radio might be the easiest to penetrate of all these, the barriers for starting a radio station are fairly low. Starting a business that provides data might prove to be more challenging. The first thing you have to do is to choose your niche.

Get experience

It’s very important to get some experience in the industry that you want to penetrate. Entrepreneurs already have to struggle with getting fund. Not having enough experience will prevent you from getting funding from Angels and VCs, there is a high chance that you will mess things up even if you are self-funded.

Getting experience doesn’t mean you should work for over 9 years. You can volunteer to work at different roles at a company that does what you want to do. This process can take just three weeks and you should have enough experience. You might also realize that a certain niche just isn’t for you and that’s okay.

What would be terrible is investing your money, time and effort in a niche only to find that it isn’t for you. Getting experience is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your business.

Set up your business

As mentioned above, it’s hard to go deeper into the different niches, the setup will be very different for every niche. Here are some of the boxes you should check, you need to register your business and obtain licenses.

Most businesses in telecommunications need licenses to conduct business, look into the required licenses for your niche. Soon after getting registered and obtaining your licenses; you should set up operating premises.

Most of the businesses under telecommunications can be ran from a normal sized office. You can run a radio or tv from a normal sized office, the same goes for other services. You will also have to buy the relevant equipment.

If you want to start a business that provides data or cellular network then you will have to buy transmitter. You also have to build a cell tower, this can cost you around R250 000, the network coverage might only good enough for a small village. Expanding will require you to build more cell towers.

The below linked article should give you more value, it goes into more detail about the boxes you should tick.


Getting experience will answer a lot of the questions you might have about starting a telecommunications company in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.

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