Cell C deactivates towers in three provinces as shift to MTN roaming continues

Cell C customers in the Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape will now roam on MTN’s network at no extra charge, the organisation confirmed in a press release sent to Hypertext. Cell C has deactivated 34 percent of its physical radio access network while migrating prepaid and Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) customers to roam solely on MTN (its partner network).

While such a move would raise eyebrows about the stability of the network, Cell C is seemingly billing this as a good thing for customers.

As Cell C views it, the myriad disruptions brought about by the pandemic these past 18 months have meant the data habits and requirements of customers have changed for good.

“The outlook isn’t all doom and gloom. While the pandemic has certainly highlighted how deep the digital divide is that exists between those who can and cannot afford the stable access to the internet; Cell C has been working around the clock to improve the quality of connectivity for communities, whilst at the same time, making sure that this access is affordable,” the press release outlines.

“We had to look at things differently. Cell C will no longer own and build expensive network infrastructure but has agreed to partner with the bigger network mobile operators to provide its customers with access to a quality network.  The partner mobile network providers will continue to invest in network rollouts, and we will roam on that network. This gives Cell C the ability to focus and invest in developing innovative product and service offerings to customers that they can now access using their quality connectivity.  It is a win for Cell C customers as they can expect the best overall experience,” adds Douglas Craigie Stevenson, CEO at Cell C.

There has been a distinct shift in strategy since Stevenson stepped into the role in February 2019. This as an attempt to keep pace with the likes of MTN and Vodacom proving fiscally irresponsible, not to mention nearly impossible to maintain, with an estimated R1.5 billion per year for 18 years of investment required to do so.

Instead Cell C appears to pushing hard on the bundling front in order to offer its customers greater value, along with leveraging its partner network in order to ensure service delivery.

“Our roaming agreements with network partners provide us with access to network capacity to deliver the best value offers for our customers. We are rolling out plans that not only see prices reducing but also offer packages that ensure customers get the most out of their connectivity,” notes Simo Mkhize, chief commercial officer at Cell C.

Whether such a strategy will bring the stability that Cell C needs, remains to be seen, but it looks to be one that the company will continue to focus on.

“With the Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape Next now roaming, next up are the citizens of the North-West, Limpopo, Western Cape, Kwa-Zulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. They can look forward to the same ease of connectivity as Cell C continues to transition customers onto its partner network, MTN over the next six months,” the release concludes.

An overview of Cell C’s new architecture shift.

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