The region wants to ensure that people in rural areas are connected and have access to fast data
POLOKWANE - Vodacom region today announces that it has invested over a quarter of a billion rands (over R270 million) on capital expenditure over the past two years, targeted primarily at expanding its 3G and 4G footprint, deploying new sites in rural and township areas of the province, performing site upgrades and the core of the network in the province. This investment will help to further improve network capacity, expand rural coverage, enhance data speeds, reduce dropped-call rates and ensure that Vodacom continues to deliver on its ‘Best network’ promise to its customers in that province.
Imran Khan, Vodacom’s Managing Executive for the Limpopo province commented:
“Our goal isn’t just to be the best network in the Limpopo province. We invested millions of Rands into network this year in a bid to ensure that we get as many people as possible connected no matter where they are. To achieve this, it’s important that we invest in the rural and township areas as well as the cities to make sure that nobody gets left behind. I’m pleased to announce that just over R150 million will be invested to ramp up the network in the Limpopo region in this financial year, this is up from R120 million spent on the network during 2017/2018 financial period. Last year alone, we deployed 169 3G sites, 31 new network sites, 30 low cost sites to increase coverage in deep rural areas of Waterberg, Vhembe, Mopane and Sekhukhune districts.”
“For the current financial period, we plan to deploy 224 new base stations, 93 of these will be deployed in deep rural communities, who never had signal coverage before and the remainder (131) is going to towns and townships to improve the user experience and increase data speed. The upgrades will enable youth in rural areas to use the internet to apply for jobs for the first time, assist scholars to learn over the internet, empower business people to run their businesses more efficiently and these communities will be able to call emergency services when the need arise. Most of the rural communities will have an access to the ICT world for the first time and I am excited about that. As you can see, we are transforming people lives through the use of technology.”
All of these investments will mean that Vodacom Limpopo have just over 1000 base station sites in the region, comprising 99.8% 2G sites, 97% 3G and 75% 4G population coverage. On a practical basis, this means that we’re 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, provide improved voice quality and enhanced mobile data speeds in major metro areas in the province.
Data demand is growing at an accelerated pace in the Limpopo province, with the region seeing 30% data traffic demand year on year. The data growth is also spurred by the region’s wide 4G coverage, covering 75% of the province. Khan added that the region will continue to roll out fibre, so that their customers can enjoy super high speeds on their network for both home and business. The region has increased the value that it gives to customers by offering personalised offers such as Just4You. By dialling *123#, customers get access to Vodacom’s J4U offers that provide the best value in the market for that individual customer.
Vodacom has hundreds of base stations in the Limpopo province, many of which are in isolated rural areas. These base stations are increasingly being targeted for theft and vandalism, which can leave entire communities without communication and causes millions of rands worth of damage. The region spends a lot of money to increase security on its base stations and this excludes replacements necessitated by theft or acts of vandalism.
“It is estimated that local cellphone network providers lose millions of rands worth of damage to its base stations annually as a result of theft and vandalism which ultimately impacts the cost of mobile services. But more importantly than the monetary impact, criminals are cutting off entire communities. We repeatedly see situations where people can't make emergency calls and are put in danger by these criminals and sooner or later these criminals will cost someone’s life,” says Khan.
As part of its new strategic objective of being a strong purpose-driven brand aimed at accelerating socio-economic transformation in the province, the region has connected 200 schools with internet connectivity and established eight ICT centres across the province. The region has also adopted Ntetele Early Childhoood Development Centre in Seshego, Bloodriver, providing infrastructure and funding support.