Durban - Vodacom says more than a billion rand is going to be spent to improve connectivity for customers with R200 million of the amount set to be invested into energy projects to improve connectivity during load shedding.
Imran Khan, managing executive Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal, said the service provider was making a significant investment into the region’s network.
“By expanding access to reliable, quality connectivity through the deployment of more sites and network upgrades, we aim to provide an exceptional network experience to our customers. With this effort, we hope to bring the benefits of digitalisation to all communities we serve.”
Khan added that R700m would go towards projects for radio access network, network capacity and upgrades, with R173m allocated to improving core network infrastructure.
“Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal is investing over R200m into energy projects to improve connectivity during load shedding. The region plans to modernise 429 base station sites and expand LTE capacity to 774 sites in the current financial year.”
Molefe Mahlangu, KZN executive head of technology at Vodacom, said that one of the major challenges was vandalism targeted at cellphone towers and the theft of batteries.
“We have installed 731 batteries to improve connectivity during load shedding. Unfortunately, we have had 581 batteries stolen.
“We are addressing this by increasing security measures including installing more cameras and increasing response times by towers to deter theft of batteries.
“However, we want to reiterate that our first line of defence is our communities and we urge them to report any battery theft to police.
“We will be replacing the batteries at 581 sites which were stolen. There are 68 generators that will be coming into the province. We also will have 9 mobile generators coming into the province.”
Khan said that Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal’s 4G population coverage was standing at 95.8%.
He added that new cell sites will be built in Nkandla.
“We are given a list of rural communities by the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies and Independent Communications Authority of SA from which we build cell sites.”
Thiloshni Pather, executive head of consumer business at Vodacom KZN, said that they want to ensure that people that may not be able to buy a 4G phone can still afford one.
Khan said that Vodacom is involved in many community upliftment programmes in KZN and donated R700 000 to an ECD centre in KwaMashu recently.
Khan added that two projects that they are proud of in KZN are the E school and Coding for girls programme.
“The E school is an online platform that provides access to the grade 1 to grade 12 curriculum for pupils, online tutoring is completely free and requires no data.
“In the Coding for Girls programme, we work with the government departments and identify pupils that have not used a computer before and we teach them how to use a computer and learn coding skills that can eventually lead these girls to pursue a career in engineering.”