Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub recently revealed they are using the LTE-Advanced network being built by Multisource.
This followed months of silence from Multisource, barring the closing of its uncapped LTE trial with FNB.
Multisource has broken that silence to assure the industry that its network roll-out is going well. It is “pretty much on schedule” and the network is performing well, it said.
Multisource CEO Duncan Simpson-Craib said they still plan to offer retail services along with wholesale opportunities.
The big iBurst move
Multisource completed its acquisition of iBurst’s parent company Wireless Business Solutions in November 2015, after it received regulatory approval for the buy.
It then launched a trial with FNB, offering select Connect subscribers access to an uncapped LTE service.
At the beginning of 2017, Multisource told MyBroadband it had started decommissioning the iBurst network and migrating clients to LTE-A technology.
Aggressive network plans
Shareholder Paul Harris told MyBroadband that to accelerate their network roll-out, they signed a lease agreement with Vodacom to share sites and facilities.
Harris said they would have at least 500 sites active through the agreement by March 2017, with the aim to have 2,000 sites by the end of 2017, and 5,000 by 2020.
Multisource also planned to build 5,000 of its own sites.
While the official launch date of Multisource’s LTE-A network is a “closely-guarded secret”, the company told MyBroadband it would start releasing more details soon.
LTE-A coverage maps were scheduled to be available towards the end of February 2017, but did not appear.
It then emerged that Multisource was offering employees voluntary retrenchment packages, with the aim of shedding 60-70 employees.
Technical staff said they have effectively been made redundant by the company’s outsourcing strategy, as the LTE-A network is being built by Huawei and Nokia.
Although no coverage maps have been published, Simpson-Craib said they do have internal coverage maps that will be made available at the appropriate time.
Network live for Vodacom
Joosub said using Multisource’s network is a strategic partnership for Vodacom, as it gives them room to manoeuvre while the government’s National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper is being discussed.
More importantly, it gives Vodacom access to additional network capacity while South Africa’s migration to digital TV fails to take off, and high-demand 4G spectrum remains unassigned.
Joosub said other operators can make similar deals with Multisource and predicts they will when “they feel the crunch”.
Simpson-Craib told MyBroadband they constantly discuss opportunities with other operators, as well as other third parties, and will share infrastructure wherever possible.