Vodacom Eastern Cape region has embarked on a crucial network investment drive in that province and has already invested R300 million, about $21 million, over the past three years to ramp up network investment in deep rural areas of the Eastern Cape.
This is part of Vodacom’s commitment to expand network coverage for people who live in deep rural areas of the Eastern Cape province, the fourth largest province in South Africa by population, with just over 6.5 million people, covering 168 966 km² land surface area.
Vodacom’s commitment to accelerate network coverage for people who live in deep rural areas has already yielded a positive societal impact. Within months of Vodacom having deployed new 3G sites, most of these communities are now part of the internet revolution underway.
As a result, school going kids can now access the internet for the first time, whilst those who are actively looking for jobs are using their smartphones to apply for jobs over the internet.
They have the option of using Vodacom’s e-School and jobs portals that are both zero-rated for Vodacom subscribers. Those who previously had to travel long distances to do banking are doing this on their devices from the comfort of their homes.
Mpumelelo Khumalo, Managing Executive for Vodacom Eastern Region commented: “Providing network connectivity for people who reside in rural areas remains central to Vodacom’s commitment of extending our network in the Eastern Cape. This is part of our vision to make sure that we connect everyone whether they live in the cities, townships or in the rural areas, and that takes investment. It can no longer be acceptable for people in rural dwellers to watch the internet revolution from the side-lines, they need to be part of it and reap the associated economic benefits. We mean serious business when we say that rural and township areas should have the same network experience such as the people who reside in urban areas are accustomed.”
The region invested R750 million in upgrading the network over the past 3 years, of this R300 million was invested in deploying networks in rural areas.
The capex went on building new sites, radio and transmission network upgrades, providing more capacity in overloaded areas and crucially deploying new sites and coverage in rural areas.
Additionally, the region built new sites to bring new coverage in the rural areas in the following municipalities: Ngqushwa, Raymond Mhlaba, Amahlati, Enoch Mgijima, Walter Sisulu, Mhlontlo, Umzimvubu, Mnquma, Nyandeni, Port St Johns, Ingquza, Mbizana, Ntabankulu, Matatiele, Elundini, Senqu, Inxuba Yethemba, and Dr Beyers Naude.
On a practical basis, this means that Vodacom brought faster data services to tens of thousands more people living in rural areas who currently only have voice services and 2G data services. This has helped consolidate Vodacom’s position as South Africa’s best network and the network provider with the country’s best rural coverage.
The region has planned 30 new sites in rural areas for this financial year. They are planned in the following areas: Mnquma and Amahlathi municipalities (5); Ngqushwa, Ndlambe and Makana (5), Mbashe and Ntsika Yethu municipalities (3 sites); Igquza (1); Sunday’s River Valley (3); Kou-Kamma and Kouga (3); George rural (3), KSD (3), Dr Beyers Naude (2) and Hassequa municipality (1).
“We are sending a strong message that Vodacom is taking serious steps in ensuring that people in rural areas are connected and have access to fast data speed so that they become part of the internet revolution and take full advantage of its positive impacts. We plan to do more to connect deep rural areas through our Rural Coverage Network Expansion Programme,” concluded Khumalo.