‘Vodacom expects network traffic to increase even further as customers connect for longer’
JOHANNESBURG – Mobile telecommunications firm Vodacom said on Wednesday it would spend more than R500 million over a two-month period to add network capacity during an ongoing lockdown in South Africa aimed at slowing down the spread of Covid-19.
Vodacom said in a statement it had significantly accelerated investment in recent weeks to ensure that its network remained resilient despite increases in traffic across both its mobile and fixed networks since the start of the lockdown on March 27, as more South Africans used the network to stay in touch, work from home and keep entertained.
“Vodacom expects network traffic to increase even further as customers connect for longer after it implemented price cuts of up to 40 percent on its 30-day data bundles and launched a range of free essential services available through its zero-rated ConnectU platform on 1 April,” it said.
The company said it had secured permits from the government to enable its field teams to continue performing their critical duties during the lockdown, such as repairs and upgrades to key communications infrastructure.
It applauded proposals by the communications and digital technologies minister last month aimed at helping operators cope with higher traffic demand by temporarily allocating currently unused spectrum and facilitating the rapid deployment of key communications infrastructure.
Vodacom said it was waiting for the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa to evaluate its application for temporary spectrum.
“We are hopeful that we will be able to gain temporary access to spectrum to enable additional capacity to be added in the quickest and most cost-effective manner as traffic increases further,” group chief tchnology officer Andries Delport said.
“We will continue to increase our network investment spend to manage the extraordinary traffic increases in the short term. We remain ready to support governments through our various operations across the continent in whatever way we can.”
Last month, Vodacom signed an agreement with South Africa’s Competition Commission to cut data costs by more than 30 percent from April 1.
Vodacom committed to a two-year substantial reduction of monthly data bundles across the board.