In the past few weeks, several Vodacom subscribers have taken to social media to complain about having bad reception, dropped calls, or no signal at all.
Customers have complained from all over the country, and have said that they are experiencing problems with Wi-Fi routers and phones alike.
The volume of complaints caused Downdetector to state on at least two separate occasions — Friday, 5 February and again on Thursday, 11 February — that there are “possible problems at Vodacom”.
With the return of load-shedding, there are many new complaints over the loss of signal during power outages.
It should be noted that Vodacom subscribers have complained regardless of the presence of load-shedding.
Between 3 and 5 February 2021, subscribers from Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Midrand, Nelspruit, Margate, East London, Pacaltsdorp (George), Krugersdorp, and Felixton (near Richardsbay) complained about poor signal on Downdetector.
There were many more such complaints on Twitter.
Johannesburg community radio station ChaiFM also reported receiving an influx of complaints about poor signal on the Vodacom network last week.
No general issue or outage on Vodacom network
When asked about the complaints about poor signal, Vodacom told MyBroadband that there is no general issue or outage impacting its network.
Vodacom also assured that any issues customers are experiencing have nothing to do with Cell C migrating its contract and broadband subscribers onto the Vodacom network.
“It is well known that we have had a roaming agreement in place with Cell C over many years. Our latest agreement has had no material impact on our network performance,” Vodacom stated.
“We would like to encourage any individual customers who may be experiencing issues with dropped calls or data to contact our customer service centre on 082 135,” said Vodacom.
Load-shedding, vandalism, and theft to blame
The company explained that dropped calls and reception problems could be a result of load-shedding, base station vandalism, or battery theft.
“When load-shedding occurs, a cellphone tower remains fully functional for as long as the batteries last or the back-up generator keeps running,” Vodacom said.
“Once power is fully depleted, the tower stops working entirely and, depending on the configuration of nearby towers, may cause a coverage area to black out entirely or for customers to experience intermittent service.”
Aside from load-shedding, Vodacom said that the base stations of local network providers are increasingly being targeted for theft and vandalism.
“On a daily basis, local network providers experience multiple incidents of break-ins at our base stations sites. It is estimated that local cellphone network providers lose hundreds of millions of rands worth of damage to its base stations annually as a result of theft and vandalism which ultimately impacts the cost of mobile services.”