Vodacom South Africa will this financial year invest over R1 billion in its KwaZulu-Natal network infrastructure, to increase capacity and accelerate access to connectivity, particularly in deep rural areas.
According to a statement, R700 million from this expenditure will go towards projects for radio access network, network capacity and upgrades. Another R173 million will be allocated to improving core network infrastructure.
The network operator says it plans to modernise 429 base station sites and expand LTE capacity to 774 sites across the province this year.
“In pursuing our aim of creating an inclusive digital society, we are making a significant investment in the region’s network,” says Imran Khan, managing executive of Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal.
“By expanding access to reliable, quality connectivity through the deployment of more sites and network upgrades, we aim to provide an exceptional network experience to our customers. With this effort, we hope to bring the benefits of digitalisation to all the communities we serve.”
The cost to communicate remains a critical issue for customers facing major economic pressures, notes the company.
According to Khan, Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal’s 4G population coverage is at 95.8%. The company is in the process of rolling out 23 new urban sites and 129 deep rural sites across the region this financial year, to expand reach and drive digital inclusion, especially in underserved areas of the province.
“In addition, we now have circa 200 sites on 5G, with plans to switch on another 122 within the financial year.”
Last year, Vodacom also invested R1 billion in the province’s network capacity.
As a result of increased investment in network services, Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal says it has experienced a call drop rate of 0.34% and a call setup success rate of 99.4%.
Widespread load-shedding continues to affect the network in the region.
To keep customers connected, Vodacom is investing R235 million in energy projects in KwaZulu-Natal, including the procurement of 68 generators to add to an existing fleet of over 196, and increasing base station site power standby time to a minimum of four hours.
These upgrades will improve network capacity and availability, particularly during stage four to six load-shedding, it says.
Earlier this year, MTN SA announced it had set aside R1.5 billion for its network, to keep customers connected, while countering load-shedding, site vandalism and battery theft.