Vodacom Brings Far Flung Rural Area of KwaZulu Natal into the Digital World

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Logo of Vodafone
Logo of Vodafone (Photo Credit: www.shutterstock.com)

As part of its plans to improve network coverage in rural areas, Vodacom said on Tuesday it has successfully deployed new network sites in deep rural areas of Umhlabuyalingana Municipality, KwaZulu Natal.

The mobile phone operator said in a statement that within months of it having deployed seven new 3G sites, covering 637 km2 with a population of over 50 000, the area has now seen a 1000% increase in data traffic.

The Vodafone owned company said this project came about in April 2017 when Minister Cwele and the Mayor of Umhlabuyalingana Municipality, Mr Dompas Ncube, approached the mobile networks and appealed to them to improve network coverage along the Mozambique Border.

The project was aimed at boosting coverage for the deep rural areas in this municipality so residents can help in clamping down on cross-border criminal activities.

“I’m very pleased with what my Zululand County team has achieved in Umhlabuyilangana. We were also able to hit two birds with one stone with this project. One, we responded to the minister and mayor’s call for the deployment of new base station sites to help locals to be able to use their phones to report criminal activities and help police curb cross-border criminal activities along the Mozambique border,” said Steven Barnwell, managing executive for Vodacom KwaZulu Natal.

“Secondly, we were able to extend coverage in deep rural areas for the people of Umhlabuyalingana. It is worth mentioning that we are the only mobile network provider that responded to Minister Cwele’s plea to deploy network technology in this area.”

“It can no longer be acceptable for people in rural dwellers to watch the internet revolution from the sidelines, 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 local municipality of Umhlabuyalingana is geographically located in the North Eastern parts of KwaZulu-Natal and is one of the six local municipalities that constitute the District of Umkhanyakude.

The Municipality spreads for approximately 3621 km2 in land magnitude has a rural classification of 99%, hence the referral to rural Municipality. Its population, according to published SA Stats figures is approximately 163 694 people, with an average household size of 6 people per household of which 99%+ are black Africans and the other races make up a percentage of less than 1%.

Vodacom deployed seven new base stations in the following areas: Kwamshudu Primary School, Gazini, Thelizolo, Border Post, Star Mission, Manguzi Temp and Manguzi Taxi rank. Vodacom plans to build three more sites in Mfakubeka, eMbongweni and Kosi Mouth.

The 2G voice traffic in the area has always been stable around 2.55 million calls per week. With the addition of the new sites and U900 (Data) roll out in the area, the 3G voice traffic has added another 800 000 calls, a 32% increase in voice traffic.

Data traffic has been stable around 200 GB per week and with the addition of the new sites and U900 (Data) roll out in the area, the 3G data traffic has added another 2TB (Terabytes) – a 1000 % increase in data traffic.

“We plan to do more to connect deep rural areas through our Rural Coverage Network Expansion Programme,” said Barnwell.

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