When we talk about the state of connectivity in South Africa, we often lament the areas of the country that are underserved or simply do not have access to connectivity. In its bid to do something about this, Vodacom has announced the deployment of 3G and 4G-enabled base stations (such as the one pictured above) that will serve 21 villages across the Free State and Northern Cape.
The deployment was taken up by Vodacom Central Region, which oversees the network’s operations in that part of the country. These base stations will also be serving communities where connectivity was previously unavailable, assisting several large municipalities in the process.
“The new sites in Ubuntu, Joe Morolong, Siyancuma, Tokologo, Mangaung, Tswaing, Ga-Segonyana, Kagisono-Molopo, Dikgatlong, Matjhabeng, Sol Plaatjie, Dihlabeng, Naledi Local Municipalities are part of Vodacom’s Rural Coverage Acceleration Programme, aimed at expanding network coverage for people who live in deep rural areas of South Africa to augment the good work that Vodacom regions have done in ramping up network infrastructure outside of urban areas over many years,” explains a press release from the network.
“We have embarked on a crucial network investment drive in our province as part of the rural network expansion programme so that we address coverage gaps in deep rural and township areas. The new sites are going to provide faster internet speeds, greater capacity and help to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural areas of Free State and Northern Cape provinces. This is part of our vision to make sure that we connect everyone whether they live in the cities, townships or in the rural areas, which requires investment,” adds Tsatsi Mthimunye, managing executive for Vodacom Central Region.
The network notes that the region has spent an estimated R67 million during the 2020/21 financial year to deploy new sites in Bethlehem, Fouriesburg, Clocolan, Fauresmith, Griekwastad, Bothabille, Kroonstad, Portsmaburg, Jagersfontein, Parys, Qwa-Qwa, Prieska and Kgalagadi Theunissen. They add that more investments in terms of network infrastructure are planned in future, with all the sites being built by Black-owned SMMEs as part of an initiative.
Now that the base stations have been deployed, that tackles one aspect of the connectivity problem in South Africa. To that end, the next step is the cost of data, which is likely a massive undertaking for those wanting continued internet access in the newly connected regions.
That, however, is an issue that local networks and government will have to come together on, in order to properly address.
[Image – Provided by Vodacom]