Vodacom invests over R400 million to improve network connectivity

Vodacom Central Region, encompassing Free State and Northern Cape, is investing over R400 million this financial year into the region’s network to increase capacity and resilience and accelerate access to connectivity throughout the province, particularly in deep rural areas.

The region spent half a billion rands during the 2023/24 financial year and R340 million in 2022/23 on expanding broadband coverage across the region.

This is an investment totalling over R1 billion over three years and it is part of Vodacom’s long-term vision, to have the widest and reliable network accessible to all South Africans, irrespective of where they live.

“We are investing heavily in the network in Free State and Northern Cape in order to achieve our goal of building an inclusive digital society. Our goal is to give our customers access to a superior network and we do this by adding new sites and upgrading our network. We intend to use this network rollout and deployment to help every community we serve to be part of the Digital Era and reap the rewards of digitalisation. Many of the communities in the region had access to the internet for the first time thanks to our network expansion effort last year. In order to improve access, we aim to build on this accomplishment this financial year by expanding broadband coverage and funding network improvements.”

From this expenditure, R250 million will go towards projects for radio access network, R150 million to fund transmission which includes the roll out of microwave and fibre for network capacity and upgrades in the current financial year.

This rollout will enable better connectivity and improved network speeds for the end user. Vodacom Central Region’s 3G population coverage is standing at 99.% and 98.2% for 4G.

The region will be rolling out over 30 new deep rural sites across the region this financial year to expand this reach and drive digital inclusion, especially in underserved areas of the province. In addition, the region will be rolling out more 5G sites this financial year.

Some of the major municipal districts that stand to benefit from this roll-out include: Amajuba, Dr Kenneth Kaunda, Dr Ruth Segomotsi Mompati, Fezile Dabi, Frances Baard, Joe Gqabi, John Taolo, Mangaung Metro, Namakwa, Ngaka Modiri Molema, Pixley Ka Seme, Siyanda, Thabo Mofutsanyane and Xhariep District Municipalities.

Widespread loadshedding continues to affect the network in the region. To keep customers connected, Vodacom Central Region is investing over R120 million into energy projects, including the procurement of generators and increasing base station site power standby time.

These upgrades will improve network capacity and availability, particularly during stage 4-6 loadshedding.

The cost to communicate remains a critical issue for customers facing major economic pressures.

Vodacom Central Region introduced personalised discounted voice and data offers such as Just4You, Just4You Town bundles for residents in certain Free State and Northern Cape towns from as little as R5 and bigger prepaid data bundles with Prepaid LTE to make connectivity affordable.

As a result, more customers can affordably use data, and consequently, data traffic has grown by 33% in the province month on month over the past year.

In its purpose-led goal to build inclusion for all, Vodacom Central Region partnered with Qwakandaa NGO to contribute towards the sustainable development goals two (zero hunger) and thirteen (climate action).

The region has supported the Qwakanda team to advance in their mandate of keeping the QwaQwa environment clean, providing food for several communities from the proceeds of the gardening activity.

The region has also partnered with W&RSETA and several tertiary education institutions to create 100 internships and training opportunities for young graduates.

Last year the region in partnership with the Free State Department of Health, launched two cutting-edge digital health solutions that are aimed at providing patients excellent medical care in public hospitals across the Free State province.

One of the solutions is called Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD), an efficient dispatching system built on benchmarked standards.

The CAD provides users the amazing ability to track ambulance requests from the moment a call is logged, to the final delivery of the patients at their destination. The solution provides a transparent platform that effectively tracks ambulance movements, patient records, departmental resources and equipment utilisation.

“Inclusive access to connectivity is how we are meeting our purpose in shaping a digitally enabled society and contributing to sustainable economic growth. At Vodacom Central Region, we remain committed to accelerating and expanding access to internet services, such as employment, education, healthcare and financial services, that can transform lives,”

concludes Mthimunye.

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