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MBOMBELA – Vodacom Mpumalanga region invested just over R300 million into the network across the province during the 2019/2020 financial year. This large investment in the network helped the region to bridge the digital divide, especially in rural and township areas and fast-tracked digital inclusion, enabling many rural dwellers to participate in the digital economy for the first time. This, coupled with a concerted effort to drive down the cost to communicate, led to a triple-digit data growth in that province.
Earlier this year, the region announced a range of initiatives to provide greater value to customers and promote digital inclusion. These include: price reductions of up to 40% across all monthly bundles and by launching ConnectU, a zero-rated platform that provides content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services free of charge. The region also rolled out a number of interventions to assist Mpumalanga provincial government in its efforts to contain the corona virus.
The lion’s share of the capital expenditure was used to deploy new base station sites, performing upgrades on existing sites and rolling out ultra-fast fibre to accelerate digital inclusion. As a result, 132 sites were activated with 4G technology, providing customers fast internet connectivity. Currently, over 95% of Vodacom Mpumalanga sites have 4G activated and the 4G population covered has increased from 90.9% in March 2019 to 92.8% at the end of March 2020. 3G coverage increased marginally to 99.8%. The region has now passed 13 243 households of which 40% are already connected on its fast fibre broadband infrastructure.
Zakhele Jiyane, Managing Executive for Vodacom Mpumalanga region commented: “We posted a solid increase in customer numbers and added more customers to maintain our leadership position across the province. Importantly, we added 300 000 smartphones on the network to the active base, which means that 93% of our customers are now using 3G and 4G smartphones Coupled with substantial network upgrades, this has led to data used by active customers increasing by 211MB on average to 1.8GB per user.”
“Critically for us as a purpose-led organisation, we became the first telco in our province to roll-out a number of initiatives to help the government and people of the province to deal with COVID-19 pandemic. First of all, we invested more money on the network to ensure that our network can handle the additional demand so that people and businesses can work without any interruptions from home. Further, we donated 2000 smartphones to help frontline health workers to collect and transmit data in real time for resource-planning purposes as government accelerates its COVID-19 testing campaign.”
With many children unable to attend school in person, e-Learning becomes even more important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Vodacom e-School has seen user registrations on the platform increase to over 1 million to date. Mpumalanga region became one of the three Vodacom regions driving the bulk of e-School new subscriber registrations, posting a 13% increase in new registrations during the lockdown period.