Cell C faces off with Vodacom, MTN over 4G network claims

Cell C has recently unveiled its new logo and corporate branding, a move which Cell C CEO Lars Reichelt said was needed to revitalize the brand and illustrate the operator’s strategy to put the consumer at the centre of everything the company does.

As part of Cell C’s branding campaign the company is calling its new HSPA+ network a 4Gs network – which Reichelt explains stands for ‘4 Great Speed’ and ‘4 Great Service’.  The use of the term 4G to describe the Cell C HSPA+ network is however nothing new.

In January this year Reichelt announced that Cell C was “on track to deliver a 4G network that will offer the kind of connectivity that South Africans have been craving”.

Reichelt’s claim that Cell C is rolling out a 4G network drew sharp criticism from tech-savvy consumers and industry players alike, and the Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys even poked fun at Reichelt’s claims calling his 4G network an urban legend.

At the time Reichelt and Cell C refused to discuss why it called its network a 4G network, but at a recent media event the Cell C CEO conceded that it is simply not possible to currently build a 4G network as the 4G standard has not been finalized yet.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) the main requirements for 4G are:

  1. Peak data rate of 100Mbps for high mobility applications such as mobile access
  2. Approx. 1Gbps for low mobility applications such as nomadic/local wireless access
  3. An all-IP based solution

Vodacom and MTN unimpressed by 4Gs

Cell C’s turnaround to have a ‘4Gs’ network as opposed to the company’s previous claim of a 4G network didn’t fool anyone, least of all Vodacom and MTN.

The two cellular operators lodged two separate complaints with the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) alleging that Cell C is misleading consumers with their claims of having built a 4G network.

It is understood that there is also unhappiness about the fact that Cell C is advertising its network before it is available, and that the company has made the ‘s’ in its ‘4Gs’ image extremely small.

MTN and Vodacom confirmed their ASA complaints against Cell C’s 4G network advertising campaign, but would not elaborate on the issue.

Silent treatment

MTN would not give the details on its complaint about Cell C’s 4Gs network advertising. The company merely said that it “has lodged a complaint with Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and is reserving comment on this issue pending adjudication”.

Vodacom would also not comment on the case, saying that their submission is private and that they would not like to discuss the matter at this time. 

Cell C was asked to explain their position and why they had decided to use the term ‘4G’ to describe their 3.75G HSPA+ network, but the company declined to comment on the matter. 

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Cell C faces off with Vodacom, MTN over 4G network claims