Cell C said yesterday it had decommissioned 34 percent of its physical Radio Access Network (RAN) sites, migrating prepaid and Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) customers to roam solely on its partner network, MTN. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi
Cell C said yesterday it had decommissioned 34 percent of its physical Radio Access Network (RAN) sites, migrating prepaid and Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) customers to roam solely on its partner network, MTN. Photo: Simphiwe Mbokazi

Cell C migrates customers to roam on MTN network

By Dineo Faku Time of article published Jun 24, 2021

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TELECOMS firm Cell C said yesterday it had decommissioned 34 percent of its physical Radio Access Network (RAN) sites, migrating prepaid and Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) customers to roam solely on its partner network, MTN.

Cell C and MTN entered into initial roaming agreement from 2018 to provide coverage in areas outside of the main metros. The company said the decommissioning of sites meant that where Cell C customers previously moved between Cell C and MTN towers, they would now only roam on MTN’s network through the virtual radio network provisioned for Cell C, which has wide network coverage.

The mobile network’s chief technology officer, Schalk Visser, said Cell C’s network strategy aimed to strengthen its position as a wholesale buyer and aggregator of network capacity with a quality network and become a digital services provider.

“If our strategy were to play catch up to the Vodacom and MTN networks, we would have to invest R1.5 billion per year for 18 years – conservatively estimated at R27bn – based on the assumption that we would be able to build 400 new cellular sites per year, and assuming Vodacom and MTN did not build any new sites during this period. This investment in our network infrastructure would be impossible to maintain,” Visser said.

Through its expanded roaming agreement with MTN, Cell C had access to more than 12 500 4G/LTE ready sites for its prepaid and MVNO customers across the country, with completion scheduled for late 2023.

Cell C said the first phase of the decommissioning was focused on the Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape and was complete.

“In the next six months Cell C plans to decommission a further 10 percent of its network sites, with a focus in North-West, Limpopo, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga,” said Cell C.

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