Vodacom has welcomed ICASA’s approval of its application for temporary spectrum in all of the 700, 800, 2300, 2600 and 3500 bands.
In addition to the accelerated R500 million in network infrastructure investment announced on Wednesday by Vodacom, the mobile phone operator said the temporary assignment of the spectrum will help alleviate network congestion during the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa.
In recent weeks, mobile network traffic has increased by circa 40% as more people work from home and turn to online services for entertainment. This additional spectrum will be made available from the date which the temporary license is issued by ICASA and can be used until the earlier of either three months after the national disaster period has ended or 30 November 2020.
Demand for data has also risen following initiatives launched by Vodacom on 1 April whereby 30-day data bundle prices were reduced by up to 40%, and the launch of ConnectU, Vodacom’s zero-rated platform that consolidates a range of essential services.
“Vodacom remains focused on providing the highest quality network service to all of its customers during and beyond the COVID-19 lockdown period and we will continue to support the South African government’s efforts to flatten the curve in whatever way we can,” Vodacom Group CEO, Shameel Joosub, says.
“The temporary spectrum which we have been assigned will go a long way towards alleviating network congestion in the coming weeks, and in the event that the lockdown period is extended further.”
ICASA has stipulated that all successful licensees for temporary spectrum assignments must ensure that they support and create virtual teaching and classrooms as determined by the Department of Basic Education and the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies.
Vodacom’s e-School platform, a free curriculum-aligned service for subscribers, has seen user registrations on the platform increase to over 1 million to date. In March alone we saw over 100 000 new registrations, up from 25 000 in February, signifying a four-fold increase in the number of new registrations on the platform.
ICASA also stipulates the zero-rating of all COVID-19 sites as identified by the Department of Health. In partnership with the DoH, Vodacom zero-rated www.sacoronavirus.co.za on 24 March.
More recently Vodacom also zero-rated the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s uFiling platform in partnership with the UIF. Vodacom will continue to increase the number of zero-rated sites and is currently working towards finalising its virtual classroom solution.