Cell C recently confirmed that it was discontinuing its fixed-LTE services through Internet Solutions, shutting down the product’s availability to other ISPs.
The company told MyBroadband that the discontinuation of this service was not a reaction to its financial situation, but said that it was no longer profitable.
Cell C added that this service was hurting the quality of its mobile network.
“The provision of the service was no longer profitable for Cell C and while another competitor may be willing to offer at a similar or lower price, Cell C does not believe it is sustainable,” the company said.
This left ISPs with no fixed-LTE option besides Telkom, and the problem of migrating customers to a different network.
Webafrica’s Greg Wright told MyBroadband that around 60,000 customers will be affected across all ISPs, according to their estimates.
“Webafrica has a significant number of these customers,” he said.
Cell C told Webafrica that 100GB and 200GB fixed-LTE packages would be cut off at midnight on 30 November 2019, and the 20GB and 50GB packages would function until midnight on 31 March 2020.
“We’ve segregated our Cell C base into three categories,” Wright said. “Those that can get Telkom Fixed LTE (85% of the base), those that can get fibre, and those who currently can’t get Telkom LTE or fibre.”
He said that the first two groups would be relatively simple to migrate to either Telkom LTE or fibre, and Webafrica said it has done its best to ensure these customers are offered packages with similar pricing and data allocations.
“A specialised task team has been set up internally to deal with Cell C migration queries via Whatsapp and tickets,” Wright said.
“We’ve already started sending out replacement Telkom LTE SIM cards in batches of 1,000 per day, with the hope of completing all deliveries before 31 October. Our goal is to have everyone off the Cell C network by close of play 31 October even though we still have a month’s grace in terms of the cutoff.”
“Customers moving to Telkom fixed-LTE will not be billed for delivery fees,” he added. “They do not have to RICA again, however, they do need to provide proof of identity to our courier company when receiving the new SIM.”
New network and other ISPs
For customers who are on Cell C fixed-LTE and do not have Telkom LTE or fibre connectivity, Wright said that Webafrica was working with a different network to try and accommodate their needs.
“We’re working on a fixed LTE deal with a new telco to see if we can accommodate them. As soon as we’re able to, we’ll touch base with these customers,” he said.
Wright did not name this operator, but as Rain, Cell C, and Telkom have all already offered fixed-LTE through multiple ISPs (with all but the latter eventually terminating their service), the most likely candidate for this new provider would be MTN.
MTN recently launched its own fixed-LTE service through its Supersonic ISP, and it said it would be open to providing fixed-LTE to other service providers.
Webafrica also rolled out an uncapped fixed-LTE offering on Telkom’s network in July 2019, offering a month-to-month package priced at R899 per month.
Wright told MyBroadband that Webafrica is now discontinuing this product as of 15:00 on 11 October 2019.
Afrihost and Internet Solutions
Other ISPs which offered Cell C fixed-LTE would be similarly affected by the migration, although Afrihost has so far maintained that it will continue support for the service.
A blog post published by Afrihost on 30 August states that the ISP does not use Internet Solutions and has a deal directly with Cell C, which means that its customers’ services should continue as normal.
The company did terminate new signups for Cell C fixed-LTE, however, with only Telkom fixed-LTE now available from Afrihost.
“Should there be any changes to our services, this will be communicated directly to affected clients through official channels,” the company’s blog post reads.
MyBroadband asked Afrihost for comment, but the company did not respond by the time of publication.