Vodacom and Telkom have warned that Eskom’s continued load-shedding means many broadband subscribers and smartphone users will experience downtime.
Vodacom told subscribers that it is aware many customers around the country will be experiencing issues connecting to the network due to load-shedding.
“Our towers do use batteries as a backup, but these do have limited power and will eventually fail,” Vodacom said.
The company added that it has put proactive measures in place to help mitigate the effects of widespread load-shedding.
“For instance, we have deployed generators at numerous sites across the country and are working as hard as possible to keep customers connected,” it said.
Telkom told subscribers that the current load-shedding, as well as the weather, may impact its network and cause temporary service interruptions.
“Due to adverse weather our technicians may not be able to reach all affected areas,” Telkom said.
The company added that emergency plans are in place and services should return to normal after the power is restored.
Load-shedding killing networks
Load-shedding has a devastating effect on mobile networks, with a big increase in site outages and dropped calls being reported when Eskom cuts the power.
Apart from the impact of batteries running down during load-shedding, there is a big increase in theft and vandalism of base stations by criminals when load-shedding hits.
Speaking at the 2019 MyBroadband Mobile Network Conference, MTN’s general manager of engineering Zoltan Miklos said load-shedding is a nightmare for networks.
Miklos said that MTN has seen a 580% increase in power downtime in March 2019 compared to a year ago.
The increase in power outages results in more mobile sites going down, which in turn means that more subscribers must be served by sites which are far away from them.
It is therefore not surprising that there is a significant decline in network availability and a big increase in dropped calls during load shedding.
The two charts below clearly show the impact of load-shedding on mobile networks in South Africa.
The chart below shows the big increase in power outages on MTN’s network at the beginning of the year, when stage 2 to stage 4 load-shedding hit the country.
Network availability and dropped calls
The chart below shows the impact of load-shedding in January to March 2019 on network availability and the dropped call rate (DCR).