Cell C recently announced that it has started to migrate its contract and broadband customers off its network in a process which is expected to be completed in the next two months.
This, the mobile operator said, forms part of its network strategy where it will switch off its own radio network and partner with the “best-of-breed on both infrastructure and services”.
What surprised many people is that Cell C’s contract and broadband customers are being migrated to Vodacom, and not MTN.
In November 2018, Cell C and MTN signed a national roaming agreement which gives Cell C access to MTN’s 3G and 4G networks.
This agreement was expanded in August 2019, which enabled Cell C to shut down its radio network and move all its traffic onto MTN’s network.
“Over a period of 36 months, which started on 1 January 2020, Cell C will transition from a physical radio access network to a virtual one provisioned by MTN,” Cell C said.
Since Cell C was building a new “virtual network” in partnership with MTN using its own spectrum, it was fair to assume it was migrating its contract and broadband customers to MTN.
This was not the case. It has now emerged that Cell C is, in fact, migrating its contract and broadband customers to Vodacom.
This was made possible through a new roaming agreement with Vodacom which gives Cell C access to Vodacom’s 4G network.
Cell C extended its roaming agreement with Vodacom in 2015 but started to move its traffic to MTN in 2018 after reaching a 3G and 4G roaming agreement with them.
The move back to Vodacom came as a surprise because of its extensive partnership with MTN in recent years.
It is interesting to note that Cell C did not mention it was migrating its contract subscribers to Vodacom in its press statement or information shared with customers.
It is currently not clear whether Cell C’s prepaid subscriber base will be migrated to Vodacom or MTN.
MyBroadband asked Cell C for comment, but the company did not respond by the time of publication.
Full Cell C statement about its network migration
Cell C’s full statement regarding its customer migration is provided below.
Cell C is making progress with the implementation of its network strategy as part of its turnaround strategy, aimed at improving overall operational efficiency and adopting an operating model to partner with the best-of-breed on both infrastructure and services.
The migration process has started with contract and broadband customers and is due to be completed in the next two months. The phased transition of prepaid customers will be confirmed in due course.
Cell C’s network strategy will enable the company to provide network services to customers via roaming agreements with partner networks while continuing to offer a full Cell C customer experience. Network roaming agreements are being implemented over three years during which time Cell C will transition customers from its own network onto partner networks, and decommission its own towers in the phased process.
Cell C will collaborate with infrastructure telco providers who continue to invest in network rollouts and will provide the foundation for new technologies, while championing innovative service offerings through collaborations and partnerships.
“Our strategic vision is to differentiate ourselves by focusing on innovative products and services without being owners of capital-intensive infrastructure. This creates more flexibility and capacity to deliver the right quality of service to our current and future customers,” says Cell C CEO, Douglas Craigie Stevenson.
“Cell C is pioneering the evolution of the MNO space in South Africa by becoming a significant wholesale buyer of network capacity and infrastructure services. It is a win-win as the individual operators deliver segmental expertise to the benefit of everyone in the industry.”
In response to a vastly changed business environment, the adoption of the network roaming model will promote more resourceful use of the telecommunications infrastructure capacity in the country, improve the overall network connectivity and provide Cell C customers with a better customer experience.
It supports the policy goals of avoiding network duplication and the burden on the environment as the shared infrastructure drives efficiencies through a more viable, flexible and agile model.
“We are moving closer to our vision that offers customers quality network access and makes Cell C a customer-first service provider, enhancing lives and providing digital solutions on a scalable quality telco platform.
“Operationally the business is getting stronger, and a successful recapitalisation will secure the long-term sustainability of Cell C,” concludes Craigie Stevenson.