Vodacom Invests R1Billion in Inclusive Connectivity in Western Cape, South Africa

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Vodacom Western Cape has invested over R1 billion in the Western Cape’s urban and rural areas in the last financial year to ensure more communities can benefit from connectivity.

This initiative is part of the company’s commitment to building a digitally inclusive society in which online access to essential services and information, employment and education platforms, digital marketplaces and much more will help to promote socio-economic empowerment and close the digital divide.

Carol Hall, Managing Executive, Vodacom Western Cape, said the increase in access to connectivity would transform lives in underserved areas.

He said,  “Our purpose-led goal at Vodacom is to ensure digital inclusion for all. By expanding our network coverage and capacity and upgrading existing base station sites across the Western Cape, 3G and 4G population coverage in the region is now 99.5% and 97.6% respectively. This increase in access to connectivity has the potential to transform lives, especially in previously underserved areas in which existing inequalities continue to widen.” 

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The project involves building 38 new 3G and 4G enabled base station sites, including 16 in townships and six in rural areas, and upgrading over 75% of the province’s base stations to LTE capabilities. Additionally, Vodacom has built 50 new 5G base station sites throughout the region, preparing the region for the roll-out of next-generation technology.

Theft of batteries and cables from base stations continues to be a problem. Each week in the Western Cape, five to seven base stations are vandalized. As a result, network availability may be compromised, particularly during load-shedding when backup batteries and generators are necessary to minimise disruptions.

In order to mitigate this, Vodacom Western Cape upgraded 240 base station sites with new batteries and anti-theft infrastructure as well as relocated mobile generators to outlying areas to prevent power outages.

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“Through ongoing evaluations on our network performance and capacity upgrade projects, we are able to manage increased loads and network faults faster, achieving more reliable restoration times. As a result, Vodacom Western Cape has the best availability, lowest call drop rate and the lowest congestion levels across all technologies compared to other regions. This forms part of Vodacom’s commitment to delivering the best network performance to customers throughout South Africa,” added Hall.

Vodacom has been reducing data and voice rates to drive adoption across all its markets as it understands the cost of communication is a major challenge in South Africa. Vodacom Western Cape introduced WhatsApp bundles last year starting at just R2 on the Just4You Town platform, allowing customers in a number of towns across the Western Cape to take advantage of more personalised discounts on voice and data. 

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In the Western Cape, Vodacom has increased data traffic by 13% and data-active customers by 2.2% since it began offering more affordable connection options.

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