South Africa’s third mobile network, Cell C, today announced that more subscribers than ever will be able to connect to its LTE network.
Even though the switch was only officially flipped today, many users took to Twitter yesterday in astonishment at being able to connect to the operator’s LTE network.
LTE coverage will for now be limited to KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng, stretching from Roodepoort to Kempton Park, and Midrand to Soweto, as the map below indicates:
In December last year, Cell C said that LTE was definitely on the cards after it earmarked R8 billion over the next three years to build its LTE network.
“Our LTE strategy will be focused and strategic, targeting metropolitan areas where people work and live. The primary commuting areas that fall outside the major metros will remain covered by HSPA+,” said Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos at the time.
At the launch today, Dos Santos said that it is sometimes better to launch later, rather than never. “The most important thing that we face is the shortage is spectrum. We moved all our 3G connections from 1800 MHz to 900 MHz, so they get a better 3G connection,” he said.
He added that Cell C has launched and built the LTE offering on the 2100MHz spectrum. “We have spent a lot of time on optimising the network, so you should get around 30Mbps download speeds on an average day.” Dos Santos also revealed that 90% of the LTE sites around Gauteng will be connected by fibre, “…which is why we have taken so long to roll it out. It is a critical part of our network.”
With Cell C piggybacking its 3G connection of Vodacom’s network, Dos Santos said that he truly believes that Cell C has the best network in the country. “With the metropolitan areas being focused on, Cape Town is being optimised and will be done by the end of the year.”
The LTE coverage from Cell C is being rolled out in phases, with phase four set to be complete in August next year.
Dos Santos said that currently, about 38% of its base customers have LTE devices, and of those, around 70% will be able to connect to the newly-launched LTE network. “We have a rapidly growing base of subscribers, so we expect it to grow quickly.”
But while having a LTE network is great and all, if you don’t have subscribers that can connect to it, the technology becomes a bit of a moot point. For this, Dos Santos has a plan.
“All of our devices in the quarter will be smartphone devices at affordable prices. We have earmarked the first quarter of next year to launch a smartphone that will be around R799, which will also increase the data use on the network as people connect to LTE,” he said.
The company plans to have over 4 000 LTE sites by 2017, and an additional 1 600 fibre connections are planned for the base stations by next year.
To drive the point further that Cell C is making a big push with its LTE coverage, the company said that it will be investing a further R6 billion over the next two years to extend LTE coverage.
For the launch, Cell C will offer 1 000 customers in Gauteng and 500 customers in KZN the chance to buy 100GB of data, valid for three months, at only R100. That is a really good offer, by any standard.
While the above offer is only available at the Walk-In Customer Care centre in Woodmead, the network will be making more LTE data packages available at retail stores from 1 October.