Vodacom has unveiled a strategy to aggressively roll out Long Term Evolution (LTE) sites across Gauteng. They have added 892 new 2G, 3G and LTE sites in the 2013/14 financial year and plan to add 975 more in the coming year.
This strategy has been implemented to support the recent surge in data usage across their network. According to Neville van Niekerk, managing executive for Vodacom’s Gauteng operation, 90% of the cellular traffic they carry is data.
At a recent presentation Vodacom said that they saw a 77% growth in data traffic on their Gauteng network in the last year. They experienced around 20 petabytes of data and 30 billion voice minutes on their Gauteng network in the 2013/14 financial year.
[Definition: A petabyte is 1015 bytes of digital information. Its symbol is PB. 1 PB = 1000 terabytes. Source: Wikipedia]
Vodacom is also looking at “refarming” some of the bandwidth it currently uses for 3G. They are currently testing the refarming around the Vodacom campus in Midrand and based on the tests, may execute it more widely.
This growth comes at a tumultuous time for Vodacom. According to reports their expected buyout of Neotel is due to be announced in the next few months. Industry analysts believe that Vodacom could pay as much as R6 billion for the fixed line company, a gamble which may be worth it if Neotel’s bandwidth access is part of the package.
At the same time Vodacom is currently in court with The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) fighting the proposed implementation of asymmetrical call termination rates. Vodacom has asserted that the proposed rates have not been properly thought through and does not believe they should be implemented. If they are, it could have a big effect on their earnings from cross network calls.