Surge in Vodacom data traffic during lockdown

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Leading local telecommunication company Vodacom has seen double-digit increases in traffic during the coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown.

The telco, like many other telecoms players, has seen an upsurge in data traffic since the national lockdown was introduced last month, but it’s not clear if this will translate to higher earnings for this year.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, president Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state of disaster and government implemented a nation-wide lockdown, forcing people to work remotely while children study at home, resulting in an increase in data usage.

Giving an update to shareholders yesterday, Vodacom said: “Driven by increased working from home initiatives and entertainment at home following the implementation of lockdown regulations in South Africa, we noted a surge in data traffic on the network of up to 40% in comparison to pre-lockdown implementation due to increased traffic as people work and entertain from home.

“Due to zero-rating certain education, government and health sites to assist during the crisis, we are expecting this trend to continue in the short- to medium-term as more customers work from home and people use technology to remain connected, educated and entertained.”

In its statement to shareholders, Vodacom said it is working under strict conditions, across all its operations, to limit and minimise the potential for COVID-19 transmission.

The telco said its engineers are ensuring the network can cater for additional demand to provide an efficient communication channel.

“Where necessary, we have the opportunity to offload more of our capacity to the Rain network in terms of our existing 4G roaming agreement with this partner. This allows for capacity alleviation on the Vodacom network.

“In order to increase the resilience of our network, we increased investment into capacity upgrades and batteries already in March and will continue with this to handle increased traffic and ensure availability.”

Earlier in the week, Vodacom announced it is investing over R500 million in an infrastructure upgrade to help ease traffic congestion on its network during lockdown. The company said the investment will be spent within the next two months to add network capacity and increase network resilience.

In addition, Vodacom was today announced as one of the 17 companies that have been issued temporary spectrum by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa, together with MTN, Telkom, Rain and Liquid Telecom.

Turning to its supply chain systems, Vodacom said to date it had not experienced significant device and/or hardware supply disruptions that would have negatively impacted the business.

“We are putting further measures in place to avoid disruptions and are working closely with our suppliers and partners in order to maintain critical supplies during this period.

“Where possible, we have stockpiled some critical network and device elements to ensure the network can remain available, while ensuring customers will get access to devices while working from home.”

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