Cell C wants to take back control of its contract customers

Cell C CEO Jorge Mendes says they are busy reintegrating the company’s postpaid business to take back end-to-end control of the relationship with their contract customers.

In January 2021, Cell C surprised the market when it revealed that its contract and broadband subscribers would roam on Vodacom’s network.

That’s because Cell C had previously said it would stop operating its own cellular towers and outsource the management of its radio access network (RAN) to MTN as a “virtual RAN”.

Mendes, appointed CEO in June 2023, called the arrangement with Cell C’s contract customers roaming on the Vodacom network “abnormal”.

“There are certain services that a [Blue Label] subsidiary provides to those Vodacom customers,” he explained.

“We handle some of those services, and an organisation called Infinity from a Vodacom point of view handles some of those services.”

Comm Equipment Company is the Blue Label subsidiary currently managing Cell C’s postpaid subscriber base.

“I can tell you that strategically, we want to drive the total relationship again, so as part of the reformed strategy, we are integrating the postpaid business back into Cell C,” Mendes stated.

“We’ve already begun that journey.”

Mendes said he foresees it taking several months to reintegrate Cell C’s contract subscriber base.

“We will look at totally managing those services end-to-end. Whether they are through outsourced resources or internal staff members is just a model that we will choose,” he said.

“Where there’s a Cell C brand, we have to own it,” Mendes continued.

“Whether it’s a call centre, an invoice to the customer, the experience through one of our channels, etc.”

Mendes said Cell C’s contract subscribers will continue to roam on Vodacom’s network.

Cell C’s prepaid customers, and mobile virtual network operator clients like FNB and Capitec Connect, run on the virtual RAN provided by MTN.

Mendes said they are investigating allowing all customers to switch between MTN’s virtual RAN and Vodacom roaming, depending on which has better signal.

“We do have MOCN roaming capability on the MTN side, and we’re busy testing that at the moment on the Vodacom side. Those are all possibilities into the future,” he told MyBroadband in an interview.

Multi-Operator Core Network (MOCN) roaming allows multiple core network networks to share the same radio access network.

It also enables cores to coordinate with each other regarding interference, backhaul, traffic prioritisation, individual user authentication, and quality of service parameters.

“We’re looking at how do we manage the traffic for the best customer service and experience — is something that we’re seriously looking at into the future,” Mendes stated.

Now read: Cell C lost over 4.5 million customers in a year — on purpose

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Cell C wants to take back control of its contract customers