South Africa’s Vodacom Plans to Increase Network Capacity during Lockdown

On Wednesday, April 15, 2020, South Africa’s mobile communications company, Vodacom Group Ltd. (Vodacom) announced plans to invest more than 500 million rands ($27 million) over two months to increase its network capacity.

The company witnessed a surge of traffic across its mobile and fixed networks over the weeks due to the rise of using mobile networks prompted by the national lockdown, which forced people to stay indoors and self-isolation.

Vodacom’s Strategy to strengthen its Networks

While the widespread coronavirus pandemic caused severe impacts across the businesses and collapsed economy around the world, the global telecommunication industry and operations have reached a peak due to a sharp rise in using mobile networks over the month due to nationwide lockdown in most of the countries. As a result of this, many telecoms companies were facing heavy congested in their networks and caused uneasiness to users.

Vodafone Group-owned company, Vodacom reported that it has experienced some problems in the network in recent weeks because of the rapid increase in the data traffic of its mobile networks after the South African government imposed a five-week lockdown to the end of April in a bid to curb the coronavirus spread.

The Vodacom officials said in a statement on Wednesday, the company has stepped up to invest more money to increase networks strength during the lockdown period and help the mobile phone operator to cope with load shedding.

Vodacom also announced plans to increase its network further while it has implemented price cuts of up to 40% on its 30-day data bundles and launched free access to certain websites, such as health sites and e-school platforms. It said, “Prior to the lockdown, traffic typically peaked during certain hours of the day, but Vodacom is now experiencing sustained peak traffic patterns for almost the entire day.”

Seeking Additional Spectrum at ICASA Telecoms

Vodacom, which competes with MTN Group formerly known as M-Cell, has applied to the ICASA telecoms regulator to allow the company a facility of temporary additional spectrum and has been waiting for the authority’s responses.

According to the Chief Technology Officer, Andries Delport, “We are monitoring all traffic patterns daily and prioritizing key network upgrades to add capacity and maintain the quality of services delivered to our customers where required.” Delport added, “We are hopeful that we will be able to gain temporary access to spectrum to enable additional capacity to be added in the quickest and most cost-effective manner.”

In a response to the issues of additional spectrum networks, ICASA declared this month that the temporary release of spectrum to the telecoms sector would be only initialized for the duration of the national state of disaster declared by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Meanwhile, a source reported that large international content providers such as Netflix, YouTube, and Facebook have started implementing certain strategies such as reducing the resolution of video content around the world during the outbreak to ease network congestions.

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