DURBAN – Vodacom is considering turning off its 2G network coverage to free up spectrum to expand 4G services and join its competitor Telkom by migrating users.
Vodacom’s group chief technology officer Andries Delport said in a media conference yesterday the company would not be able to switch off its 2G network entirely, as the technology was still used by emergency services and for other applications.
“We are going to focus on switching 2G off in South Africa and seeing if we can get buy-in for that,” Delport said. Last year Telkom became the first mobile operator to announce that it was switching off its 2G network.
Vodacom said reducing the reliance on 2G would allow the company to improve indoor coverage for 4G services and it would also make it more affordable to extend 4G coverage to more rural areas.
Peter Takaendesa, a portfolio manager at Mergence Investment Managers, said data and digital services were now the key drivers of revenue growth for telecoms companies and 2G networks were not suited for those services.
“The mobile operators use the old 2G networks largely for traditional voice services. While operators are still making the majority of their revenues from voice services, the future is clearly mobile data and digital services that require 3G-5G networks.
“The delays in licensing new spectrum in South Africa have meant that operators have to re-farm spectrum or rent network capacity from other operators with fewer subscribers such as Rain and Liquid Telecoms,” Taka-endesa said.