Vodacom Eastern Cape region will invest over R500 million into the network and power backup upgrades across the province during the 2023/2024 financial year.
In a statement, the telco says this significant investment into the network will help the region expand connectivity in deep rural areas and townships that had no connectivity before.
It notes that this will enable hundreds of thousands of people to participate in the digital economy for the first time.
This, coupled with a concerted effort to drive down the cost to communicate through innovative platforms such as Just4U and Just4YouTown, has lowered voice and data rates across the province and enabled scores of people to be part of the digital economy underway, says Vodacom.
It adds that the bulk of the capital expenditure will be used to deploy new base stations sites, improve network capacity, perform power backup upgrades due to power outages, and roll out 5G to accelerate digital inclusion.
According to the telco, as a result, 106 new deep rural sites will be built in local municipalities such as Buffalo City, Matatiele, Mbashe, Mnquma, Nelson Mandela Bay, Ngqushwa, Ngquza Hill, Ntabankulu, and Port St Johns.
It points out that LTE capacity expansions will be performed in 396 sites and 17 new urban sites will be deployed across the province.
The region switched on live 5G mobile network in three major municipal districts in the Eastern Cape in 2021 and Vodacom plans to accelerate this deployment by rolling out over 50 new 5G sites.
Zakhele Jiyane, managing executive for Vodacom Eastern Cape region comments: "We have always maintained that our mobile networks are our key differentiator, and as a result, we continue to invest more money to expand networks to give our customers exceptional service.
“It is important for us to invest in the next generation of communication technology to give our customers access to networks that provide faster speeds and support the digital economy. Therefore, our accelerated investment in 5G in this financial year is in line with our commitment to connect the unconnected and will ultimately help the region bridge the digital divide between the urban and rural areas of the province.
“It can no longer be acceptable for people in rural dwellers to watch the internet revolution from the sidelines; they need to be part of it and reap the associated economic benefits. Therefore, we will be rolling out over 100 new deep rural sites across the province to connect the unconnected.
"We mean serious business when we say that rural and township areas should have the same network experience such as the people who reside in urban areas are accustomed,” adds Jiyane.