Building a telecommunication network is tough but in South Africa it’s made even harder because, while we have many main metropolitan areas, there are many more areas where telecommunications have never been seen before.
It can be challenging but it’s a challenge that Vodacom seems intent on facing.
Over the last six years Vodacom’s capital expenditure on its network has amounted to R48.95 billion and that figure is set to grow as the telco announces it will be constructing 200 new rural network sites.
These aren’t rural as on the outskirts of a major city but rather what Vodacom chief technology officer Andries Delport calls “deep rural” areas.
These are usually villages or townships with very low populations in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga that have never had cellular access.
To build out this coverage Vodacom tells us it prefers giving black-owned SMEs the opportunity to build out these sites and by extension, give them a foothold with which to enter the sector.
For the time being this rural coverage is on the 2G and 3G network but where there is demand, such as in villages with SASSA pay points, clinics and landmarks, 4G coverage will be made available.
“Vodacom’s rural coverage acceleration programme has seen us make significant progress in connecting villages which have never experienced the various economic and societal benefits of cellphone connectivity. As Africa’s leading mobile network operator, Vodacom remains focused on providing the widest and best rural connectivity in South Africa. We look forward to connecting the new sites in the year ahead,” said Delport.
So while it might be a challenge to get coverage to the entire length and breadth of South Africa it’s a challenge Vodacom wants to succeed at.
At time of writing Vodacom’s 4G network serves 81.5 percent of the population, their 3G network 99.4 percent and 2G network covers 99.9 percent of the population. The focus is now on bring all of those figures up to 100 percent and with 82 rural builds already in progress we may soon have mobile broadband no matter which part of our country you visit.