Cell C finishes switching off its towers

Cell C has announced that it successfully completed its network migration ahead of schedule.

The migration involves switching off all its tower infrastructure and handing over the building and operation of its cellular network to MTN.

MTN will provide Cell C with access to a “virtual radio access network” for its prepaid and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) subscribers.

MVNOs that run on Cell C include FNB Connect, Capitec Connect, Shoprite K’nect, and Standard Bank Mobile.

Cell C’s contract subscribers already all roam on Vodacom.

With its network migration complete, Cell C says it now has access to around 14,000 towers countrywide.

Of these, over 12,000 sites are 4G/LTE enabled.

“This is a huge milestone for Cell C and our valued customers,” states Cell C chief technology officer Schalk Visser.

The company promised that the migration would give customers expanded national coverage, higher quality connections, fewer dropped calls, and a more stable network during load-shedding.

This is because their partner network is investing in backup power, Cell C said.

“We have effectively increased our network access close to three-fold in less than three years, from 5,500 towers to 14,000,” Cell C said.

“We are the first mobile operator to think about our network strategy differently, and instead of trying to build out an expensive and unsustainable network, we chose to become a buyer of network services.”

Cell C said technology advances enabled this approach and that this innovation has changed the telecommunications landscape.

It also stated that the market now comprises those that own infrastructure and those that buy infrastructure as a service.

However, Cell C insists that it is not itself an MVNO.

Cell C said it uses its own spectrum and is still fully in control of the customer experience.

“This ground-breaking model has propelled Cell C’s network footprint forward by 20 years,” says Visser.

“We now have access to best-in-class infrastructure, can benefit from scale and have simultaneously reduced our network expenses and capital expenditure on costly infrastructure.”

The alternative to this approach would be for Cell C to invest billions yearly to roll out a physical radio access network in the traditional mobile network operator model.

Vodacom and MTN each spend around R10 billion per year on their mobile networks in South Africa. In its most recent financial results, Telkom reported spending R2.75 billion on its mobile network in the past year.

“We can now focus our investment and energies into innovating products and services that will add value to customers, knowing that we can operate from a competitive platform that offers the same quality connectivity to all South Africans,” Visser said.


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Cell C finishes switching off its towers