Vodacom launches LTE services in South Africa
Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub announced today at the MyBroadband Conference 2012 that Vodacom's LTE (commonly referred to as 4G) service had been officially switched on and was open for business. The service is initially available in Johannesburg, with other cities to follow in the near future.
Joosub said "Vodacom was the first network in SA to test LTE more than two years ago, and since then we've been busy upgrading base stations and our fibre-optic transmission network in preparation for today. It's great to claim another South African first for Vodacom with the launch of LTE services to the public, and it's even more pleasing that we've done this ahead of many other advanced economies around the world. South Africa has joined an exclusive club with the fastest connectivity the world has to offer."
LTE represents a major jump in mobile connectivity capabilities. The service has the potential to operate at more than double the speed of any existing mobile connection currently commercially available in South Africa, and at significant multiples faster than the 2G and 3G connections common across the country. Higher speed and lower latency translate into a more stable user experience with stutter-free video and almost instantaneous music and picture downloads.
Contract customers with LTE capable devices can activate the service from today by simply calling 111 or visiting any Vodacom shop*. LTE capable devices will be on sale in selected Vodacom outlets before the end of October, with priority going to existing Vodacom customers.
Commenting on Vodacom's intention to be the first choice for anyone looking to connect via this new technology, Joosub said "LTE devices are in short supply world-wide, but thanks to Vodafone's global purchasing power we're confident that Vodacom will have the best possible selection in stores in the very near future."
The LTE service will initially be accessible via approximately 70 base stations in Johannesburg. A coverage map is available on http://www.vodacom.co.za/ . Further announcements will be made with respect to the network roll-out plans in due course.
Joosub said "Switching on commercial LTE services is just one step in a much bigger network transformation. With over 9,000 base stations, Vodacom already has by far the most extensive network in South Africa and on average delivers faster connection speeds. Our challenge isn't keeping ahead of the other operators - it's keeping ahead of the tidal wave of data demand. Ninety percent of our 3G base stations are 21.6 Mbps enabled, and almost 80% are 43.2 Mbps enabled. By the end of the year we aim to have 500 sites enabled for LTE.
Speaking about the factors constraining Vodacom, Joosub said "We'll be rolling out LTE services using existing spectrum, but to unlock the full potential of this technology and transform connectivity in South Africa, we still need additional spectrum to be released by ICASA."
Joosub added "Data isn't a commodity. Not only the speed of connections but also the quality can vary widely. We invested R7 billion in our network last year and are aiming for similar levels this year in order to deal with increasing data volumes and provide an even better experience. I'm convinced that Vodacom's competitive offerings and superior network strategy will give us a clear lead in the industry."
Summing up, Joosub said "With the launch of Vodacom's commercial LTE service, a whole new world of connected services becomes possible. Next generation HD video and voice services will come into their own, real-time gaming via mobile becomes possible, and the SMME and Enterprise markets will benefit from the almost immediate access to files and information that this technology brings."
*The LTE service requires a 64k or 128k SIM card
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