Widest network fight: Vodacom vs Cell C

The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa (ASA) has ruled that Cell C’s claim of having the widest network coverage in South Africa is misleading.

A Cell C billboard stated “Widest Network Coverage”, with a small disclaimer reading “2G, 3G, LTE, and Wi-Fi calling. Terms and Conditions apply”.

Vodacom disagreed with the advert and lodged a complaint with the ASA, arguing that Cell C’s claim was misleading and unsubstantiated.

Vodacom said that OpenSignal, which monitors the coverage and performance of mobile operators worldwide, recognises Vodacom as having the best coverage in South Africa.

According to the OpenSignal research, Cell C occupied fourth place in South Africa as of 11 March 2016.

Cell C countered, saying it shifted the goal posts in terms of cellular coverage by enabling Wi-Fi calling.

“By allowing for Wi-Fi calling, we have effectively turned every Wi-Fi hotspot across the globe into a Cell C tower, allowing customers to make and receive calls, and send and receive SMSes,” said Cell C.

Cell C said its widest coverage claim was based on its 2G, 3G, LTE, and Wi-Fi networks in combination with the Vodacom towers it relies on for roaming, as well as the thousands of Wi-Fi hotspots available.

The ASA was not convinced, stating that Cell C’s argument fails to address the fact that these networks overlap, compounding its overall coverage as opposed to extending it.

The ASA also had its reservations about Cell C’s incorporation of all Wi-Fi networks into the equation, as opposed to those it can guarantee will allow its customers access.

The ASA ruled that Cell C’s “Widest Network Coverage” claim was misleading, and should be withdrawn with immediate effect.

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Widest network fight: Vodacom vs Cell C