Cell C and MTN that will see Cell C’s 4G network coverage extended to 95 percent of the population. File image: IOL

DURBAN - Cell C and MTN have concluded a roaming agreement that enables network innovation, promotes efficient network infrastructure utilisation and sustainable investment in network infrastructure.

In 2018, Cell C and MTN entered into an initial roaming agreement that provided 3G and 4G services in areas outside of the main metros.  The expanded roaming agreement extends this coverage and gives nationwide roaming to the benefit of Cell C subscribers.  

This roaming agreement will see Cell C’s 4G network coverage extended to 95 percent of the population. Cell C customers will have access to over 12,500 sites, of which 90 percent are LTE enabled. 

Cell C Chief Executive, Douglas Craigie Stevenson said, "This is a pivotal step in Cell C’s turnaround strategy.  One of the key pillars of this turnaround is to implement a revised network strategy that enables Cell C to manage its network capacity requirements in a more cost efficient and scalable manner". 

The agreement is in line with shifts in the global telecoms industry towards more cost effective network strategies that drive down costs and deliver greater operational efficiencies that ultimately benefit consumers. 

"This roaming agreement is transformative for Cell C.  The company is no longer encumbered by the high costs of building a network footprint and we can focus our energy and efforts into developing innovative and disruptive service offerings that will be welcomed by data hungry consumers.  This is a win-win all round as it has long-term benefits for the economy, the industry and ultimately consumers," added Craigie Stevenson.

The implementation of the expanded roaming agreement will commence in early 2020 and the transition is expected to take up to 36 months to complete. 

This roaming agreement adheres to all applicable legal and regulatory requirements. Cell C and MTN will maintain their spectrum and each party will use its own frequencies.  Cell C will still have all of its licences and control its core network, transmission, billing system and subscriber management.  

Cell C’s turnaround strategy is focused on ensuring operational efficiencies, restructuring its balance sheet, implementing a revised network strategy and improving overall liquidity. 

Cell C continues to pursue a recapitalisation which will improve the company’s overall liquidity.  Independent financial and legal advisers have been appointed representing the lenders and constructive discussions on the recapitalisation are underway with them and other stakeholders in respect of various proposals.

The announcement of the roaming agreement comes after another South African telecommunications company made an offer to buy Cell C. Last week The Business Report reported that Telkom SA SOC Ltd. offered to buy Cell C Pty Ltd. and combine South Africa’s two smallest mobile network operators to better compete against larger rivals, according to people familiar with the matter.

The offer from Telkom included a plan to reduce Cell C’s debt and renegotiate contracts with suppliers, the people said, asking not to be identified because negotiations are ongoing. Telkom wants to take over the management of Cell C’s business, they said.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE