Vodacom announced that it has successfully installed 4G equipment at every site across the country – enabling its whole network to now be 4G capable.
The network upgrade was a multi-billion rand six- year programme, described by Vodacom CTO Andries Delport as the biggest project he has been involved in.
Vodacom demonstrated the capability of its new 4G network in Midrand where download speeds of 270Mbps were achieved.
“At this speed an entire music album could be downloaded in 10 seconds. This is approximately four times faster than the fastest speed achieved with LTE technology on Vodacom’s network,” Vodacom said.
It’s worth noting that while the equipment used throughout Vodacom’s radio network is all 4G-capable, 3G and 4G technology has not been switched on at all sites.
Delport provided the following details on the number of sites currently offering 2G, 3G, and LTE services:
- 2G sites: 10,200
- 3G sites: 7,800
- LTE sites: 1,800
- LTE-Advanced test sites: 2
Around 76% of Vodacom’s base stations have high capacity backhaul, enabling them to utilise the high-speed broadband offered by LTE, Delport added. This means that although Vodacom’s radio network is 4G capable, not all of its sites have the necessary transmission capacity to exploit the high speeds.
He also said that the duration of their radio network renewal project was 6 years and 3 months and involved over 2 million kilometres of travelling. During an equipment swap, the average site downtime was 45 minutes, and the shortest down-time recorded was 25 minutes.
Delport highlighted that the radio network swap project is about much more than superfast speeds.
“We’ve also been investing heavily to make sure that we have the capacity to handle the massive growth in call and particularly data volumes in South Africa,” he said.
Unfortunately, the switch-on of LTE Advanced across Vodacom’s entire network is held back by a lack of spectrum.
“We’re looking forward to rolling this higher speed technology out as soon as additional spectrum becomes available,” said Delport.