Service initially limited to JohannesburgPublish date: 10 October 2012 by Hanleigh Daniels
Local telecommunications giant Vodacom has become the first operator in South Africa to commercially launch its LTE (4G) service.
Vodacom’s Group CEO Shameel Joosub made the announcement at the MyBroadband Conference 2012. He stated that the service will initially only be available in Johannesburg via approximately 70 base stations, with other cities to follow in the near future. The company is aiming to have 500 sites enabled for LTE by the end of the year.
Joosub elaborated that Vodacom was the first local network to test LTE more than two years ago, and since that time, the company has been upgrading its base stations and fibre-optic transmission network in preparation for today’s launch.
According to Vodacom, LTE has the potential to operate at more than double the speed of any existing mobile connection currently commercially available in South Africa. The firm asserts that higher speed and lower latency will further translate into a more stable user experience, with stutter-free video and almost instantaneous music as well as photo downloads.
Contract customers with LTE capable devices can activate the service as of today by simply dialling 111 or visiting any Vodacom shop. In order for the LTE service to work, users will need to have either a 64k or 128k SIM card. LTE capable devices will be on sale in selected Vodacom outlets before the end of October, with priority going to existing Vodacom customers.
“It’s great to claim another South African first for Vodacom with the launch of LTE services to the public, and it’s even more pleasing that we’ve done this ahead of many other advanced economies around the world. South Africa has joined an exclusive club with the fastest connectivity the world has to offer,” Joosub stated.
Speaking about the factors constraining Vodacom, Joosub said: “We’ll be rolling out LTE services using existing spectrum, but to unlock the full potential of this technology and transform connectivity in South Africa, we still need additional spectrum to be released by ICASA.”
Joosub added that Vodacom has invested R7 billion in its network in 2011 and are aiming for similar levels of investment during 2012, in order to deal with increasing data volumes and provide an even better experience.
“With the launch of Vodacom’s commercial LTE service, a whole new world of connected services becomes possible. Next generation HD video and voice services will come into their own, real-time gaming via mobile becomes possible, and the SMME and Enterprise markets will benefit from the almost immediate access to files and information that this technology brings,” Joosub concluded.
In related news, Vodacom also recently announced the launch of the R1 300 Vodafone Smart II smartphone, which aims to take on competitors such as Samsung’s Galaxy Pocket (R1 000) and LG’s Optimus L3 (R1 500) in the budget smartphone market. This handset operates on Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and is powered by a Broadcom 21552 system-on-a-chip, which features a 832 MHz CPU.