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Cell C to tweak roaming structure for postpaid clients

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 26 Feb 2024
Cell C CEO Jorge Mendes.
Cell C CEO Jorge Mendes.

Mobile operator Cell C is looking to upgrade its roaming structure with Vodacom.

This was revealed last week by Cell C CEO Jorge Mendes, when the company and its largest shareholder Blue Label Telecoms announced financial results for the six months ended 30 November.

According to Mendes, the mobile operator will deploy a multi-operator core network (MOCN) on Vodacom, in a bid to provide its postpaid customers with seamless connectivity.

Last year, Cell C successfully completed its network migration ahead of schedule. It is now operating with access to circa 14 000 towers countrywide, with more than 12 000 sites 4G/LTE-enabled.

In 2021, Cell C started migrating its contract and broadband customers to Vodacom, while it commenced building its own radio access network on MTN’s infrastructure and switched prepaid subscribers to MTN.

Cell C’s latest financial results show it has 8.5 million subscribers, with approximately 10% postpaid and the balance being prepaid.

“MOCN will allow you to move traffic at a product level, geography level, as well as various other levels between one network and the other,” Mendes said.

“If you look at the roaming structure that is in place at Vodacom – it’s forced roaming. Sometimes you don’t have great experience with that because it’s forced. When you go off the network, you have to ‘re-talk’ to the network again using the handset.

“From a network operator perspective, MOCN gives you more control to give customers a much better experience.”

He said the MOCN model has already been implemented on the MTN network and now it’s looking to deploy the technology on Vodacom.

“Our postpaid customers are on Vodacom, and our prepaid and MVNO customers are on MTN. So, the seamlessness on the MTN side is a lot better on the Vodacom side because of the forced roaming structure versus the MOCN structure.”

Schalk Visser, Cell C chief technology officer, explains via e-mail that MOCN is a much more efficient technology compared to traditional roaming, with specific reference to the mobile radio access network.

“Cell C still retains control over its core network elements; it is only the radio access network component that has been virtualised. There is very little need for duplicate infrastructure, which translates to high capex investment savings; such investment in infrastructure is reduced, while maintaining a competitive mobile network operator market.”

Visser notes MOCN provides a seamless experience with no intervention required from the device or subscriber.

“Cell C started the MOCN implementation in October 2018 and has over the last couple of years expanded the model into the rest of its network strategy,” Visser concludes.