South Africa’s ‘Cell C’ Embarks on a Network Upgrade Plan


In its bid to support its growing customer base, South Africa’s telecom operator, Cell C is embarking on a network upgrade plan and has budgeted about R2.3 billion to complete this network upgrade.

The company increased its sites by 439 sites, with the majority of sites completed in the latter part of 2013, taking the total to 4176 by the end of the year.

“We are exceptionally pleased with the business’s performance over the last 18 months and while we still have some way to go, our shareholders are pleased with the path we are following now,” says newly appointed Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos.

The company continues this intensive investment in its network with an additional 318 sites planned for 2014. Additionally, Cell C is in the process of swapping the RAN equipment of around over 1000 sites from NSN to Huawei in a three-phase process, which should see the first two phases conclude by November this year.

“The idea behind the work we are doing with the equipment transfer is to bring more stability into the network, increase the coverage and provide the best quality we can to our customers,” says Dos Santos.

Phase one was completed by the end of April with the first 392 sites now on Huawei technology. Phase two will be an additional 456 site swaps by the end of September and the final 382 sites will be completed by the end of November.

Cell C has also been busy over the last 8 months with upgrades and renewal of its transmission network at various levels of the transmission and transport layers.

“We have deployed additional fibre routes in conjunction with Dark Fibre Africa and have made strides to complete the fibre rings in metro areas. This was done with the aim of improving quality and introduce a higher level of redundancy in the network,” says Dos Santos.

The above, coupled with the upgrade of other old and inefficient optical transmission equipment forms part of Cell C’s Mobile Backhaul Transport Upgrade Project, in partnership with Huawei, which will run over the next 4 years.