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In order to increase regional coverage reach, network capacity, and resilience, Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal will invest over R1 billion in the mobile network this year. This will speed up access to connectivity in KwaZulu-Natal province, especially in remote rural areas and townships.
“This large investment in the area’s mobile network supports our mission of creating a diverse, digital society. We can ensure that the advantages of digitalization are accessible to all the communities we serve by increasing access to dependable, high-quality connectivity through the deployment of more sites and network upgrades, as well as by continuing to provide our customers with an exceptional network experience, says Imran Khan, Managing Executive for Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal.
Increasing coverage in rural areas to reduce the digital divide as expected connectivity in KwaZulu-Natal
From this capital outlay, R444 million will go toward radio access network-related projects, R135 million has been set aside for regional network capacity and upgrades, R85 million will be used to enhance network resilience, optimization, and operations, and R17.5 million will go toward projects that will upgrade and expand the core network infrastructure. Additionally, during the current fiscal year, Vodacom intends to increase LTE capacity to 704 base station locations in KwaZulu-Natal.
We offer 3G service to an astonishing 99.5 percent of the region’s population and 4G to 97.6 percent. In order to increase this reach and, more crucially, to link the unconnected to online resources like education, healthcare, and financial services that have the power to change lives, we are launching 27 new urban sites and 43 new deep rural sites throughout KwaZulu-Natal this fiscal year. This will boost connectivity in KwaZulu-Natal.
Looking ahead to a future with 5G.
The rollout of another 61 sites is continuing in the current fiscal year, bringing the total number of 5G sites in the KwaZulu-Natal region to over 200. By enabling more widespread usage of innovations like the Internet of Things and software-defined wide-area networking, a 5G connection will provide even larger advantages. Particularly for corporations, 5G has the promise of unlocking data-driven productivity that will power our economy.
As the process of implementing the spectrum moves further, we hope to raise this 5G site count even more. The benefits of 5G are currently being felt in the metro and high-demand areas of the area, but our goal is to increase the coverage reach and capacity so that all economic sectors, from agriculture to small businesses, can fully take advantage of new technologies, like the Internet of Things, to increase sustainable productivity, says Khan.
Dealing with network disturbances.
Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal was able to increase site power standby time from four to eight hours thanks to the R70 million investment in backup energy projects. This has a significant impact on network availability during longer outages of stage 4-6 load shedding as well as following the recent flood damage in the area. In addition, Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal has installed around 180 generators at various locations to help with backup power in the case of a disruption, and the purchase of an additional 75 units to expand the network’s capacity is now underway.
Improving the network experience for customers.
Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal has a call drop rate of 0.2 percent and a call setup success rate of 99.5 percent thanks to an R150 million investment in core network voice and data engineering services and roll-out, among other network optimisation upgrades. Additionally, in the past fiscal year, 300 000 new active data users in the region have joined the customer base.
“Our customers receive exceptional voice call quality and connectivity, whether they are using it for work, leisure, or school. But because we want this customer experience to be accessible to everyone, we have introduced initiatives in the area that lower the cost of communication, such as a reduction in 1GB bundle pricing in April from R95 to R85, our Just4YourTown pricing for prepaid data bundles in every KwaZulu-Natal town, data value-adds to youth customers on our NXT LVL products, and RED price plans with significantly higher data allotments at excellent value monthly pricing, says Khan.
To promote digital inclusivity
Vodacom’s zero-rated e-learning and ConnectU platforms boost socioeconomic development in KwaZulu-Natal while advancing digital inclusion at no additional cost and providing educational and employment possibilities. Connectivity in KwaZulu-Natal is therefore a non-negotiable step in the right direction.
In order to help small businesses quickly reconnect to the internet and their network after the unrest in July 2021, the area also provided free network router replacements, educated affected business customers on data backup to the cloud, and built a network of supporters that could offer security, basic services, and food to those in need.
Vodacom’s Fast Forward Series has trained SMMEs across the province in various business skills, such as financial health and social media marketing, to encourage sustainable enterprise growth and foster digital and financial inclusion. The program is a collaboration with FaceBook (Meta), Google, SmartXchange, and Business Doctors.
Although there were difficulties during the previous fiscal year, the Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal area kept moving forward with its commitment to connecting for a brighter future. As we enter the increasingly digitalized post-Covid landscape, where our investments in network performance and coverage reach, the provision of high-quality customer experiences, and affordable, inclusive digital services and solutions will help to ensure no one is left behind, this is more crucial than ever, says Khan. The more reason connectivity in KwaZulu-Natal is a project we have to be involved in.