Over the last 20 years, Vodacom has invested over R70 billion in its network, and the operator’s coverage maps clearly show the value of this investment.
Vodacom launched its first commercial cellular services on 1 June 1994, and at the time only had coverage in cities, large towns and along major roads.
“The plan was to install 500 base stations across the country, covering the main highways in the process,” former Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig said.
Vodacom underestimated the demand for mobile voice services, and after commercial services launched the cellphone industry exploded in South Africa.
“Within five months Vodacom had increased its customer database by 540% and signed on 100,000 customers,” said Knott-Craig.
“The demand had been vastly underestimated. Vodacom started rolling out base stations at break-neck speed. At two base stations per day it could scarcely keep up, initially investing R250 million more than expected.”
Vodacom continued its aggressive network rollout, and now covers close to 100% of South Africa’s population.
Vodacom is continuing its network rollout, with a planned R9 billion investment in the current financial year.
Vodacom’s 3G network now covers 91.9% of the population, with plans to offer 3G wherever it offers voice services.
The following network maps illustrate Vodacom’s network growth from 1994 to 2014.