Using Vumacam poles for 5G base stations

Vumatel’s Vumacam poles across Johannesburg could soon be used as 5G base stations, the fibre network operator’s parent company Remgro revealed during an investor presentation in June 2022.

Remgro-owned Community Investment Ventures Holdings (CIVH) is Vumatel’s holding company, and it said it has thousands of Vumacam poles in the metropolitan that are base station-ready.

Remgro’s head of strategic investments, Pieter Uys, revealed its intentions to develop Vumacam infrastructure into 5G towers.

“The guys at Vumatel had the vision to actually start building towers,” he said.

“They’ve sneakily built some towers throughout the whole of Joburg. There must be three thousand of these poles that are mobile base station ready.”

“So those poles can be monetised at some point,” Uys added.

He explained that Vumacam’s poles have electricity feeds and are connected to Vumatel’s fibre network, adding that each has a housing for base station equipment.

This was made possible by extending the pole’s height beyond that of their CCTV domes, making it possible to carry such extra infrastructure.

Pieter Uys, head of strategic investments at Remgro

However, Vumacam previously told MyBroadband that the extra height of the poles was intended for load-bearing purposes to support solar panels instead of base station equipment.

“While they could potentially be retrofitted for the purpose of mobile antennas, their current height was not initially established for this purpose,” Vumacam said.

At the time, the company said rolling out a mobile network on its poles was not a primary focus for Vumacam as it would require a lot of additional work.

“Over and above the requisite consultation and regulatory measures, it would require retrofitting,” it said.

On the other hand, CIVH previously explained that Vumatel had a “secret plan” for the CCTV service all along, which included monetising the Vumacam network by allowing them to be used as cellular base stations.

In October 2020, Uys said the network of cameras could be used by current mobile players or by CIVH itself to launch its own open-access wireless network.

While not confirmed, Uys’s reference to an open-access mobile network may have related to the government’s controversial WOAN — wireless open-access network — in which CIVH was keen to get involved.

Vumacam’s Fusion Centre.

Vumatel officially launched its Vumacam CCTV service in February 2019. The initiative aimed to monitor and help fight crime in South Africa’s big cities.

The initiative has seen several success stories, with it having helped security company Fidelity recover 19 stolen vehicles in Gauteng in 2021.

Fidelity Services Group CEO Wahl Bartmann said Vumacam’s network has allowed the security company to better integrate analytics on flagged crime incidents across all Vumacam cameras nationally.

“The results in Gauteng have been extremely positive. In the last three months alone we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of positive recoveries,” Bartmann stated.

He said the company had recovered four stolen vehicles in March, five in April, and ten in May 2021.

Vumacam is continually expanding its network of CCTV cameras. In February 2022, it announced that it was expanding its services to Durban by installing around 2,400 public space cameras in the city.

In June, it also announced that it would install 600 new security cameras in the East Rand after reaching a memorandum of agreement with the City of Ekurhuleni.

“The [agreement] allows Vumacam to continue the much-needed rollout of cameras and technology across [Ekurhuleni],” Vumacam CEO Ricky Croock said.

Most recently, Vumacam announced a R60 million investment to install 1,850 cameras across Gauteng.

The rollout includes 350 cameras in underserved areas such as Alexandra, Soweto, and Diepsloot.


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Using Vumacam poles for 5G base stations