JOHANNESBURG – Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Ismail Vadi, has announced that an agreement has been reached with mobile operators that full mobile communications services should be made available to Gautrain commuters by July 2014.
Vadi said representatives of Vodacom, MTN, Cell C, Telkom 8ta, Gautrain Management Agency and the Bombela Concession Company agreed to a joint technical implementation plan, which would be implemented in three phases.
Phase one will be to ensure that voice (cell phone) communications services are provided at all underground stations by June 2013. Phase two will allow for cellphone coverage in the 15km tunnel section of the Gautrain system, which is expected to be completed by December 2013. Phase three will have “top quality” voice connectivity throughout the 80km rail system of Gautrain, which all parties will attempt to have completed by July 2014.
Vadi said this commercial agreement must be concluded within the existing regulatory framework without compromising the operational and commercial interests of each of the parties to the agreement.
He added that in the end the agreement must serve the public good as mobile connectivity is essential, particularly during service interruptions and delays. This will enable commuters to inform colleagues, friends or family members of the delay and ask them to postpone meetings, flights or engagements.
Vadi indicated that he was sensitive to the fact that mobile operators must adhere to their license conditions by ensuring that they avail communications services to their subscribers, particularly emergency calls.