In a substantial move towards bolstering digital connectivity and fostering inclusivity, Vodacom Western Cape has announced a strategic investment of R570 million for the current financial year. This investment underscores the company’s dedication to establishing a comprehensive digital society within the region.
Of the total investment, a significant portion amounting to R470 million has been earmarked for enhancing the quality, reach, and capacity of the broadband network infrastructure across both urban and rural domains. Notably, this investment is poised to further augment the ongoing expansion of the 5G network footprint, alongside the continuous modernisation of the existing network infrastructure. By upgrading base station sites and integrating greater LTE capacity throughout the province, the initiative seeks to deliver an enriched data experience for consumers while effectively catering to the burgeoning digital needs of businesses.
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The remaining R100 million of the allocated funds is dedicated to energy projects aimed at sustaining seamless connectivity even during power outages. Given the persisting challenge of load shedding, which not only hampers network reliability but also imposes significant additional costs for network maintenance, this energy investment focuses on the augmentation of static generators and the replacement of outdated batteries. Building on the efforts of the previous year to fortify backup power systems and optimise power usage during load shedding, the latest investment underscores a commitment to addressing power-related vulnerabilities. Moreover, the region has proactively doubled its mobile generator fleet, bolstering network reliability during extended periods of rolling blackouts.
Carol Hall, Managing Executive of Vodacom Western Cape, emphasises the company’s unwavering commitment to network quality, expansion, and reliability as it paves the way for a better future through transformative technological benefits. By providing improved access to digital platforms encompassing education, health, and finance, the initiative underscores its potential to drive socio-economic empowerment within the region.
In a significant development in March 2022, Vodacom South Africa secured a substantial 110 MHz high-demand spectrum through the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa’s (ICASA) auction and assignment process. Harnessing this newly acquired spectrum, Vodacom witnessed an impressive quadrupling of its 5G network reach within the Western Cape region over the past year. Presently, more than 200 base stations across the Western Cape offer 5G coverage, affording customers in high-demand urban locales access to cutting-edge mobile technology characterised by remarkable network capacity and broadband speeds.
The integration of the newly acquired 700MHz spectrum has facilitated a series of notable enhancements, including improvements in indoor signal quality, expansion of LTE capacity, and the extension of LTE coverage to previously underserved rural areas. Vodacom’s application of the spectrum has enabled innovative milestones in 5G connectivity, including the deployment of a 5G indoor solution at the Cape Town International Convention Centre—a timely endeavor that coincided with the AfricaCom Conference in November 2022. Furthermore, the company’s deployment of 5G ocean coverage enabled live-streaming of high-definition camera footage during the 50th-anniversary edition of The Ocean Race in February this year, showcasing the potential of 5G in dynamic scenarios.
Carol Hall reiterates the enthusiasm surrounding the possibilities presented by 5G technology, especially given the Western Cape’s distinction as the Vodacom region with the most 5G-enabled smartphones. This expansion into the next generation of technology is poised to unlock avenues for network performance enhancement and the delivery of innovative solutions that are pivotal for constructing an all-encompassing digital future.
While digital connectivity remains pivotal, the cost of communication poses a significant challenge for customers navigating economic pressures. Acknowledging this, Vodacom Western Cape has introduced personalised discounted voice and data packages, including offerings like Just4You and Just4You Town bundles tailored for specific towns within the Western Cape. By also introducing larger prepaid data bundles featuring Prepaid LTE, the initiative seeks to render connectivity more affordable and accessible. This proactive stance has resulted in a 40% growth in data traffic across the province over the past year.
In parallel, Vodacom has launched V-Hub—an online advice platform aimed at supporting Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in navigating the demanding business landscape. The platform serves as a repository of reliable, objective, and actionable advice, curated in consultation with industry experts. By offering guidance on customer acquisition, data security, financial best practices, and more, Vodacom aims to empower SMEs as they embark on their digital journeys.
Carol Hall underscores Vodacom’s dedication to delivering enhanced value to its customers through unmatched network connectivity. The independent benchmarking organisation umlaut, a part of Accenture, recently reaffirmed Vodacom’s network prowess by ranking it as the ‘Best in Test’ ahead of its mobile network competitors. The assessment lauded Vodacom for its network reliability, data services, and crowdsourced network quality, underscoring the efficacy of the company’s ongoing efforts.