Vodacom’s rural coverage acceleration programme has seen us make significant progress in connecting villages, which have never experienced the various economic and societal benefits of cellphone connectivity, its chief technology officer, Andries Delport, said on Thursday.
As part of its accelerated rural coverage programme, Vodacom has announced that it will launch over 200 new rural network sites across all nine provinces in the year ahead. This comes after the company extended its South African rural coverage by 101 villages in the full year 2018, in areas which did not previously have network access.
“As Africa’s leading mobile network operator, Vodacom remains focused on providing the widest and best rural connectivity in South Africa. We look forward to connecting the new sites in the year ahead,” he said.
Vodacom, which is owned by British mobile phone giant Vodafone, said the sites are located predominantly in Kwa-Zulu Natal, the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. 82 builds are already in progress and the villages were selected through an extensive prioritisation process.
The operator has focused on areas of no or low coverage where the network is most needed.
In making its selection, Vodacom said it also looked at rural areas with places of interest that would benefit from better connectivity; including hospitals, schools, police stations and transportation hubs.
All sites will be installed with 2G/3G capability with the possibility to upgrade to 4G when spectrum becomes available. In villages with clinics, SASSA pay points or other important landmarks, Vodacom will prioritise 4G coverage.
Vodacom now provides 81.5% of South Africa’s population with 4G coverage, with 99.4% of the population covered by 3G and 99,9% covered by 2G.