Vodacom will invest over R320 million into its network in KwaZulu Natal during the 2020/2021 financial year, the company announced today.
The majority of this investment will involve building new LTE base stations in the province, the mobile network said – with rural areas being a particular focus.
Vodacom said that this investment will help to remove barriers to communication while driving digital inclusion among rural communities in the province.
“We have always maintained that the key differentiator for us is the quality, strength, and reliability of our network,” said executive head of operations at Vodacom KwaZulu Natal Ishmael Mathinya.
“We believe investing in our network ensures that we deliver best-in-class coverage and customer service, not only to urban areas but to people who dwell in township and deep rural areas as well, so they are well-positioned to take advantage of the benefits of the Digital Revolution.”
“This is why we are deploying more sites in rural areas in this financial period in areas which did not previously have network access.”
Vodacom said that the Vodacom KwaZulu Natal region increased its LTE footprint from 56% to 94% in the past two years, meaning that the KwaZulu Natal province as a whole will have over 99% population coverage.
“There has been a massive focus on broadband connectivity in the rural areas, with LTE coverage specifically in the rural segment at just over 80% and plans to address remaining areas by the end of the 2021 financial year,” said Mathinya.
“Critically, the region crossed the 2,000 base station mark in mid-year. Furthermore, we’ve completed an additional 625 sites as part of bandwidth expansion in order to provide far more improved data experience largely targeted in eThekwini and Pietermaritzburg,” says Mathinya.
The rest of this budget will be used to roll out fibre, which it said will also accelerate digital inclusion.
56km of fibre will be installed in Newcastle and will run in a route through Madaeni, Oswezini, and Blaauwbousch, before returning to Newcastle.
This project will be completed on 22 December 2020.
Vodacom said it has invested just under R200 million into a network resilience upgrade programme, which is designed to deal with the challenges of load-shedding. This project will be finished by the end of October 2020.