Telkom and Vodacom recently signed a major roaming agreement which will allow Telkom customers to roam on Vodacom’s 2G, 3G, and 4G networks in South Africa.
The roaming agreement is comprehensive, and includes seamless handover support – which means Telkom customers will not experience dropped calls when moving from the coverage of a Vodacom tower to a Telkom installation, or vice versa.
This roaming agreement will begin from 1 December 2018, and Telkom’s current roaming deal with MTN expires in June 2019.
Telkom said that it will conduct a phased transition from MTN to Vodacom throughout this period, which will be completed by the time its deal with MTN expires.
Vodacom’s new roaming agreement with Telkom is complicated by an existing agreement with Cell C, however, leading to concerns that an additional agreement may impact the network.
Vodacom previously told MyBroadband that its roaming agreement with Cell C to use its 2G and 3G networks in certain areas will remain in place for at least another two years. This is despite Cell C signing a new roaming agreement with MTN.
Effect on Vodacom’s network
MyBroadband spoke to Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub about the potential effect of the Telkom roaming agreement on the operator’s network performance.
Joosub said that while the amount of traffic would increase due to Telkom’s roaming agreement, it will replace Cell C customers who previously roamed on Vodacom and are now routed through MTN’s infrastructure.
“There will be no negative effect on the network,” Joosub said. “Telkom’s roaming customers will replace Cell C.”
“The way to think about it is that Cell C will be migrating off while Telkom will be migrating on.”
Joosub also said that some of Vodacom’s roaming agreements are a result of spectrum limitations, especially its agreement with Rain which allows Vodacom customers to roam on the data-only network.
“We wouldn’t be doing a Rain roaming agreement if we didn’t need capacity,” Joosub said. “It speaks to the issue of spectrum availability.”
He said that Vodacom invests heavily in its network infrastructure and this pays off for the company and its customers, but additional spectrum is needed to efficiently improve mobile data speeds and prices in South Africa.