CAPE TOWN - Vodacom Western Cape plans to invest R570 million this financial year into the region''s network as part of the company''s commitment to building an inclusive digital society.
Of this investment, R470 million is allocated to improve the quality, capacity and reach of the broadband network infrastructure in urban and rural areas. This network investment will continue to focus on further expansion of the 5G footprint, ongoing modernisation of the existing network infrastructure, and upgrading of base station sites with more LTE capacity throughout the province. This will provide an improved data experience for our consumers and ideal connectivity for businesses with growing digital needs.
The remaining R100 million is being spent on energy projects for uninterrupted connectivity during power outages. With loadshedding continuing to be a major network challenge and a significant source of additional cost to keep the network up, the energy investment this year will include more static generators and upgrading old batteries, which builds on the previous year''s backup power upgrades and loadshedding-related power optimisation activities. The region has also doubled its mobile generator fleet to improve network reliability in the event of rolling blackouts for a longer duration.
"As we continue to connect for a better future, we remain focused on the quality, reliability and expansion of our network. Our significant investment into infrastructure upgrades is enabling customers to reap the transformative benefits of technology. This includes access to education, health and financial digital platforms that promote socio-economic empowerment in the region," says Carol Hall, Managing Executive, Vodacom Western Cape.
In March 2022, Vodacom South Africa acquired a total of 110 MHz high-demand spectrum as part of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa''s (ICASA) auction and assignment process. Using the new spectrum, Vodacom in the Western Cape region quadrupled its 5G network reach over the last year. With 5G now available on over 200 base stations in the Western Cape, Vodacom customers in various high-demand urban areas can enjoy access to the latest mobile technology with substantial network capacity and broadband network speeds.
Furthermore, to improve indoor signal quality, expand LTE capacity and especially to improve the reach of our LTE signal in rural areas, Vodacom deployed LTE on the newly acquired 700MHz spectrum on more than a quarter of its installed base in the region as well.
The acquired spectrum has also enabled several network firsts in 5G connectivity, including a 5G indoor solution, which was deployed at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in time for the AfricaCom Conference in Cape Town in November 2022. Vodacom also deployed 5G ocean coverage, which provided sailing teams taking part in the 50th-anniversary edition of The Ocean Race with the capability to live-stream in-action, high-definition camera footage in February this year.
"We''re excited about the possibilities of 5G, especially as we are the Vodacom region with the most 5G-enabled smartphones. Expanding this next-generation technology opens opportunities to further improve our network performance and deliver innovative solutions that can build an inclusive digital future," concludes Hall.
The cost to communicate remains a critical issue for customers facing major economic pressures. Vodacom Western Cape introduced personalised discounted voice and data offers such as Just4You, Just4You Town bundles for residents in certain Western Cape towns and bigger prepaid data bundles with Prepaid LTE to make connectivity affordable. As a result, more customers can affordably use data, and consequently, data traffic has grown by 40% in the province over the past year.
To help Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) thrive in this tough environment, Vodacom launched V-Hub, which is a free online advice platform designed to help SMEs grow their businesses. Vodacom Business consulted with experts to bring SMEs objective, trustworthy and actionable advice, especially as SMEs embark on a digital journey. The advice also guides SMEs on how to find and keep customers, protect business data online, financial and business best practice and more.
"Our aim is to deliver greater value to our customers through unparalleled network connectivity. Testament to this commitment is the results of the latest biannual network report by the independent benchmarking organisation umlaut, part of Accenture. Vodacom was ranked ''Best in Test'' ahead of mobile network competitors and scored the highest for network reliability, data services and crowdsourced network quality," says Hall.