Mobile service provider Vodacom has already earmarked a good portion of cash for its planned network upgrades, but it has now confirmed that Gauteng’s 3G signal will be upgraded with a focus on rural areas – to the tune of R1 billion.
Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub earlier this year explained that it will be adding more base stations, improve 4G connectivity and expanding fibre optic infrastructure, but areas like Soweto, Orange Farm, Alexandra, Thembisa, Mamelodi, Atteridgeville and Soshanguve will now be at the forefront of the upgrades.
“I’m pleased to announce that in excess of R1 billion has been earmarked for network investment in Gauteng in the current financial year. Of this amount, a large portion will be used to upgrade and increase Gauteng’s 3G coverage in the major townships. By the end of March 2015 we will add more than 400 new 3G sites,” said Shane Hibbard, Managing Executive for Vodacom’s operations in Gauteng, in a press statement.
“This means that we’ll be bringing improved data services to thousands of people who currently only have voice services and limited data services. More specifically, the upgrade will increase network capacity and provide improved voice quality and mobile data speeds in areas such as Soweto, Orange Farm, Alexandra, Thembisa, Mamelodi, Atteridgeville and Soshanguve.”
Stemming from it future upgrades, it will be deploying around 600 new LTE sites in Gauteng by April next year. If they can pull it off, it will increase Gauteng’s LTE coverage to 38%, which is currently at only 25%.
But with great number come great capacity, and Vodacom is well aware of this. Hibbard added that if it wants to connect as many people as possible, Vodacom has to lower its prices and increase its capacity to acceptable levels.
“Just cutting prices without increasing capacity is a recipe for congestion and unhappy customers. To put all of this into perspective, data volumes on our network in South Africa increased around 70% over the last year. If that were road traffic, you could imagine the impact on traffic speeds and congestion. Our approach has been to significantly ramp up investment so that we can not only cater for the massive increase in data traffic on our network, but to actually provide even more new capacity. This is the only sustainable route to a lower cost to communicate,” concluded Hibbard.