Vodacom has sent a message to mobile customers apologising for network problems due to load-shedding.
Subscribers received the following SMS on 11 February detailing the network issues:
Vodacom is aware that many customers around the country are experiencing issues connecting to the network because of load-shedding.
We have put proactive measures in place to help mitigate the effects of widespread load-shedding.
We would like to apologise for any inconvenience, normal services will resume once load-shedding runs its course.
Vodacom told MyBroadband that to make customers aware of the ongoing effects of load-shedding across its national network, it will continue to communicate via SMS and other channels.
“Vodacom has put a number of proactive measures in place to help mitigate the effects of load shedding,” the company said.
“For instance, we have deployed generators at numerous sites across the country and are working as hard as possible to keep customers connected.”
Generators and backup power
It is important to note that cellphone towers remain functional during blackouts for as long as their reserve power lasts.
Once their battery or back-up generator is depleted, the base station stops working entirely and may result in intermittent coverage or no signal at all.
“Our towers do use batteries as a back-up but these do have limited power and will eventually fail,” Vodacom said.
Describing the effects of load-shedding, Vodacom said that the coverage areas blacked out during load-shedding depend on how long the back-up power at these sites lasts.
“If the outage lasts long enough for batteries to drain, some areas can be completely blacked out, and others not impacted at all,” Vodacom said.
“Batteries have a limited number of charge / deplete cycles, which means the more often they are called on to work, the shorter their lifespan.”
“With infrequent outages, a battery can last for five years, but with frequent outages due to load shedding, this will reduce to one year or two years,” the operator said.
Vodacom added that it incurs significant costs to provide this backup power and maintain connectivity during load-shedding.
“Additional input costs and revenue losses amount to tens of millions of rands,” it said.