Cell C is in the process of moving entirely onto MTN’s network, which will result in the company switching off its radio access network.
This infrastructure sharing strategy will help Cell C to cut down on network investments and still get the benefit from an excellent service through MTN.
This will be the first time that a South African mobile operator shuts down its radio network, which raises questions as to what will happen with its equipment and spectrum.
Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson told MyBroadband some of their radio network equipment will be sold, which will generate money for the company.
There are also components of its radio network which are leased, which will be given back to the companies it leases it from.
He added that MTN will not use any of Cell C’s current radio equipment to offer services to Cell C.
“As Cell C deconstructs its network over the transition period, traffic will be moved from our physical radio network to the virtual radio network provisioned for us by MTN,” he said.
One of the big questions is what will happen to Cell C’s spectrum, especially after Telkom lodged a complaint about Vodacom and Rain’s network arrangement.
Craigie Stevenson said their spectrum will be used “by Cell C on the new virtual network that MTN is providing”.
He made it clear that they are still in full control of their spectrum and are using it to support their customer base.
Cell C is not an MVNO
With Cell C switching off its full radio network and moving to “a virtual network provided by MTN”, many people view it as a super MVNO (mobile virtual network operator).
Craigie Stevenson dismissed this view, saying apart from not having a radio access network, they remain a fully-fledged mobile operator.
He said Cell C will still maintain a core network and can still choose to increase or decrease its coverage footprint.
It also has control over network quality, it remains a spectrum license holder, and controls its network investment.
Cell C will keep its voice interconnect agreements with other operators and hold on to its number range.
The image below provides an overview of the difference between Cell C and an MVNO.