Mobile operator Cell C says it has successfully completed its network migration ahead of schedule.
The firm is now operating with access to circa 14 000 towers countrywide, with more than 12 000 sites 4G/LTE enabled.
In a statement, the telco says the move will see Cell C’s customers benefit from the expanded national coverage, better quality connection, fewer dropped calls and generally a more stable network during load-shedding as the partner network is investing in backup power.
In 2021, Cell C started migrating its contract and broadband customers to Vodacom, while it commenced building its own radio access network (RAN) on MTN’s infrastructure and switched prepaid subscribers to MTN.
“This is a huge milestone for Cell C and our valued customers,” explains Schalk Visser, Cell C chief technology officer.
“We have effectively increased our network access close to three-fold in less than three years, from 5 500 towers to 14 000. We are the first mobile operator to think about our network strategy differently and instead of trying to build out an expensive and unsustainable network, we chose to become a buyer of network services.”
According to the mobile operator, technology advances enabled this approach.
Cell C deactivated its own physical tower and RAN, and migrated prepaid and mobile virtual network operator customers to a virtualised RAN enabled by a network infrastructure partner.
Cell C uses its own spectrum and is still fully in control of the customer experience.
The company notes this innovation has changed the telecommunications landscape, with the market now made up of those that own infrastructure and those that buy infrastructure-as-a-service.
“This ground-breaking model has propelled Cell C’s network footprint forward by 20 years,” says Visser. “We now have access to best-in-class infrastructure, can benefit from scale and have simultaneously reduced our network expenses and capital expenditure on costly infrastructure.”
Cell C would have had to invest billions yearly to roll out a physical radio access network in the traditional mobile network operator model.
“We can now focus our investment and energies into innovating products and services that will add value to customers, knowing that we can operate from a competitive platform that offers the same quality connectivity to all South Africans,” adds Visser.