Giving a new meaning to network resiliency, Vodacom has developed and successfully deployed a mobile recovery solution to ensure its network is even more resilient in the case of an unforeseen catastrophic incident.
As part of this initiative, Vodacom has successfully launched and tested its Radio Access Network (RAN) Mobile Recovery Solution. Essentially two mobile data centres on wheels, the solution gives Vodacom the ability to restore functionality at any of its Mobile Telephone Exchange (MTX) sites within 48 hours. This is a major step in ensuring the company is prepared for any unexpected network crises.
A crucial part of the network, Vodacom’s country-wide MTX sites link the radio access network (base stations) to Vodacom’s core network. Each site is dependent on transmission infrastructure to route voice and data traffic between subscribers, devices and systems.
“We call this type a “hole-in-the-ground” recovery solution because it’s used in the very unlikely event that our entire facility’s functionality completely disappears. These mobile data centres effectively allow us to recover our site within 48 hours instead of the two years it typically takes to build a new MTX site,” said Vodacom Network Engineering Officer, Beverly Ngwenya.
The testing of the new solution required Vodacom to simulate the recovery of its entire Midrand MTX site. This site provides connectivity to hundreds of thousands of customers in the southern and central parts of Gauteng.
Commenting on the successful testing of the new solution, Vodacom’s Chief Technology Officer Andries Delport said:
“I’m extremely pleased that everything ran smoothly and we reported no loss of service. This is due to the level of skill and dedication of the project team. Their hard work has resulted in a solution that not only ensures we are prepared in the event of a major crisis but also embeds our position as the leader in constant connectivity.”
To further ensure the company is able to meet their 48 hour turnaround time two solutions were commissioned. The first, based in Pretoria, services the northern part of the country, while the second is based in Bloemfontein to ensure quick access to the southern parts of South Africa. Each recovery solution consists of complete power backup with on-board generators, fire suppression, air conditioning, raised flooring, building management systems, security systems, and network equipment.
“We spend a lot of time making sure our network is as resilient as it can possibly be. In fact the majority of our infrastructure is built to be geo-located meaning functionality can be picked up by another site based somewhere else in the country if necessary. Most times this happens without the customer even knowing something is wrong. With the MTX sites this is not possible. However, with today’s solution in place I am confident we are as prepared for any eventuality as we can possibly be,” said Delport.
Network resiliency is part of the company’s ongoing network investment programme, which has seen it invest in excess of R22.5 billion in the network over the past three years.