Earlier this year, Vodacom’s CEO Shameel Joosub announced plans for a 30% increase in investment in Vodacom’s network across South Africa. He stated that amongst other things, the money would go towards adding base stations, getting more data coverage into rural areas, deploying faster technology like LTE (also known as ‘4G’) and expanding fibre optic infrastructure to connect the base stations.
Delivering on this promise, Vodacom announced last week that they had added another 293 3G sites, as well as an additional 473 LTE sites across South Africa. This represents an increase of more than 50% in LTE sites. On top of this the company announced that 74.5% of their sites are now connected using their own self-provided high capacity transmission. The additional capacity means that Vodacom are able to maintain superior network performance even as traffic increases in response to lower prices.
Bringing this investment story closer to home, Carol Hall, Managing Executive for Vodacom’s operations in the Eastern Region explained that:
“I’m pleased to announce that, just over R110 million has been earmarked for network investment in the Eastern Cape province in the current financial year. The bulk of this amount will be spent on upgrading approximately 183 network sites to the latest Radio Access Network Technology. On a practical basis, this means that we’ll be bringing faster data services to tens of thousands of people who currently only have voice services and EDGE data services. On top of this, the upgrade will increase network capacity and provide improved voice quality and enhanced mobile data speeds in areas such as Transkei, East London, Port Elizabeth and George.”
This upgrade of approximately 183 sites is in addition to the 748 sites that have already been completed in the region. The overall programme is due to be completed by the end of December 2014 and has been specifically aimed at the extension of data services with a special focus on the rural areas as well that only have mobile voice capability and EDGE data services at the moment.
Hall added; “On top of this we’re planning to add over 70 super-fast 4G/LTE sites, which will be up and running in December 2014, making sure that the major cities have truly world-class connection speeds. Anyone looking to take advantage of this technology should stop by our stores to see the latest 4G/LTE enabled devices. With 4G/LTE, video and music downloads can be accomplished in a fraction of the time of traditional 3G services.”
While speed is a key consideration in this technology upgrade, adding capacity is also a major focus. One of Vodacom’s major strategic objectives is to sustainably reduce the cost to communicate. Hall explains:
“Just cutting prices without increasing capacity is a recipe for congestion and unhappy customers. Our approach has been to significantly ramp up investment so that we can not only cater for the huge increase in data traffic on our network in South Africa, but to actually provide even more new capacity. This is the only sustainable route to a lower cost to communicate and I’m really pleased that we are bringing the benefits of this programme to the people in the Eastern Cape.”