South Africa, together with many other developing nations, has become a dumping ground for devices which are cheaply manufactured overseas using obsolete 2G technology, Vodacom has told MyBroadband.
While answering questions about its plans for the future of its 2G network, Vodacom said that a major issue it has identified is that there are retailers who keep selling outdated cellphones that only have 2G support.
“Sales of these legacy devices are largely outside the control of mobile network service providers,” Vodacom said.
“The majority of these low cost devices are sold by independent retail chains who procure the devices overseas and sell them directly to consumers.”
Vodacom called for regulatory intervention to stop the sale of such 2G-only mobile phones in South Africa.
“This is in the best interests of consumers and South Africa’s fourth industrial revolution (4IR) ambitions, as 2G technology is not data capable and does not promote the acceleration of the digital economy,” Vodacom stated.
“In addition to the proposed regulatory interventions to stop the perpetuation of outdated 2G device sales, additional measures which should be considered by the government to accelerate the adoption of newer, data capable 4G devices would be the reduction of import duties and VAT on entry-level 4G smart feature phones, and entry level 4G smartphones,” the operator suggested.
To provide a viable alternative to the 2G devices that are flooding the South African market, Vodacom said that it is helping to support the adoption of 4G mobile phones.
Vodacom said it has introduced low-cost 4G “smart feature phones” such as the Vodacom Vibe, which retails for R279.
It also said that it has made 4G devices more affordable through increased device subsidies.
“Many operators across both developed and developing countries have already shutdown their legacy 2G networks. This has been made possible by intervention from their national regulatory bodies and governments,” Vodacom stated.
Vodacom said that it is important that its 2G network for consumers is decommissioned and that it reduces the radio frequency spectrum resources being used for 2G machine-to-machine and Internet of Things services.
“[It is] crucial in ensuring South Africa accelerates digital inclusion and is able to realise its 4IR ambitions,” said Vodacom.
Vodacom previously told MyBroadband that it wants to shut down its 2G network by 2024.
“New technologies such as 4G provide a better voice experience, are better suited to cope with the explosive growth in data traffic through the more efficient use of spectrum, enable the cost effective extension of mobile broadband coverage across the country, including rural communities, and are also more energy efficient.”