In its bid to embrace the next generation in telecom infrastructure, South African telecom operator Cell C, is all set to invest R8 billion over the next three years to build its LTE network that will see high-speed broadband technology brought to its customers in targeted areas across the country.
“Our LTE strategy will be focused and strategic, targeting metropolitan areas where people work and live. The primary commuting areas that fall outside the major metros will remain covered by HSPA+,” says Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos.
The company has signed supply agreements with both Huawei and ZTE, which are Cell C’s primary partners in the rollout of LTE and entails the rollout of more than 4000 LTE sites. “We are pleased to partner with both these businesses. Huawei and ZTE have both proved exceptional vendors in delivering quality service and technology to Cell C over the years,” says Dos Santos.
The first targeted areas for LTE rollout will be in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. “Gated communities and high-density residential areas where there is a great demand for high speed data will be one of our priorities.”
In a phased approach, Cell C will upgrade sites starting in the central Gauteng areas from Rosebank and Sandton across the northern Johannesburg areas. This will be followed by the northern Gauteng areas, including Pretoria and Centurion and finally the eastern and western parts of Gauteng to include Benoni, Boksburg, Johannesburg proper, Soweto, Lenasia and Roodepoort.
“We have a comprehensive plan and strategic reasoning behind the specific tower rollout route we have chosen and are working tirelessly to ensure that every LTE site is linked to our fibre backbone to provide the highest level of quality and speed to our customers,” says Dos Santos.
In KwaZulu-Natal, Cell C will start the rollout in areas from Hillcrest through to the Dolphin Coast, as well as, the Umhlanga area. Areas surrounding Durban, including Chatsworth and Durban South, will follow. Pietermaritzburg, Umlazi and surrounding areas will be next on the roadmap.
Rollout in the Western Cape will begin from SeaPoint to Durbanville, the Airport and Stellenbosch. Simon’s Town through Constantia to Brakenfell and Somerset West will be included in the second wave of the Western Cape rollout. While Mitchells Plain and Paarl are planned to follow.
“These are just some of the areas that will be covered by LTE over the next three years. Limpopo, Mpumalanga and other provinces are planned, and details of these rollouts will be unveiled at a later stage,” says Dos Santos.
Cell C already has LTE sites on air in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape with a select group of customers trialling the service. Full coverage maps will be available in due course and will be updated closer to commercial launch.
The LTE rollout will complement Cell C’s continued investment into its existing network and the rollout of additional towers to improve HSPA+ performance and increase coverage and capacity across the country.
An additional 1353 3G sites are planned across the country over the next few years to ensure that Cell C stays above the curve. Additional projects are also underway in various provinces to enhance network quality and stability following the successes the company experienced in the Gauteng improvement projects.
“The significant investment in our network further confirms our shareholders’ commitment to Cell C and confidence in the company’s continued strong performance,” says Dos Santos.
“We have worked hard to ensure the best possible quality and service experience for our customers and we will continue to put quality at the top of the agenda. We are excited to now be able to add LTE to our roadmap.”
Cell C plans to launch a commercial offering in the latter part of 2015 and will reveal its LTE suite of products and services in due course.