Cell C connects PE

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Third mobile operator Cell C has connected the first city - Port Elizabeth (PE) - to its new 4Gs network.

It has committed to a network speed of 21Mbps from day one and aims for 42Mbps within the next six to eight months.

Speaking at the launch event this morning, Cell C CEO Lars Reichelt highlighted that average global broadband speeds are currently at 7.94Mbps; however, the average speed in SA (across fixed and mobile networks) is 2.72Mbps.

Trials of the network have yielded average speeds of between 5Mbps and 6Mbps, with regular peaks of over 10Mbps, noted Reichelt. He argued that these tests take a number of factors into consideration and that the network would live up to Cell C's commitment to deliver 21Mbps.

“We are not network gods, we are human beings and we will do the best we can do,” he noted.

Reichelt added that the broadband play would become an integral part of Cell C's strategy going forward. “There is a big vacuum in data offerings in this country and Cell C sees this as a massive growth area.”

The operator is in the implementation phase of this strategy and Reichelt explained that PE was chosen as the first city, as the company considered it big enough to be a challenge, but not too big that it would be unmanageable.

He said the network currently covers 65% of the PE metropolitan population and has committed to 99% coverage by the end of the year.

Cell C initially said it was testing the network in six cities across the country, but this has since expanded to include 10 cities. Reichelt noted that the next two cities to get the network will be connected within this month. However, he would not identify which two.

The operator has also committed to 34% coverage of the South African population by the end of the year and 67% population coverage by mid-2011.

Pricing showdown

Cell C today also unveiled its opening price offer, which essentially translates to an average of 5c per MB.

The mobile operator is offering two packages: a modem capable of speeds of up to 7.2Mbps and 2GB of data every month, for a period of 12 months for R1 499; and a modem capable of speeds of up to 21.6Mbps and 5GB of data every month, for a period of 12 months, for R2 999.

Reichelt added that the out of bundle rate is 39c per MB.

The company is confident these rates are below those offered by competitors, citing the following comparisons: At 250MB, Cell C's rate would be 33c; MTN's 60c and Vodacom's 56c. At 1 000MB, Cell C's rate would be 8c; MTN would be 29c and Vodacom would be 29c. At 5 000MB, Cell C's rate would be 4c; MTN would be 19c and Vodacom would be 18c.

Last month, Reichelt noted the new network would be based on HSPA+ technology and would operate in the 900MHz and 2 100MHz frequency bands.

He explained that its HSPA+ 900 transmitter allows for coverage in areas that may not have been economically viable before and would speed up the roll out of high-speed broadband to larger numbers of consumers.

The decision to go with HSPA+ 900 allows for lower capital and operating expenditure, allowing for more competitive offerings going forward, added Reichelt.

With the city-to-city network roll out, Cell C has committed to identify certain schools that would receive full Internet connectivity.

Today, Reichelt announced that Ethembeni Enrichment Centre, in PE, would be the first to receive the offering.

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Cell C network coming

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