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Cell C switches off physical radio network in three provinces

Migrating its customers off its own radio access network to the network of roaming partner MTN.
Image: Moneyweb

Cell C said on Wednesday that is has made significant progress in migrating its customers off its own radio access network to the network of roaming partner MTN.

In the Eastern Cape, Free State and Northern Cape, all network sites have now been decommissioned. The project is expected to be completed countrywide by 2023.

“Cell C has successfully decommissioned 34% of its physical radio access network (RAN) sites, while seamlessly migrating prepaid and mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) customers to roam solely on its partner network, MTN, via a virtual RAN,” the company said.

In the next six months, Cell C plans to decommission a further 10% of its network sites, with a focus on North-West, Limpopo, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

“Our network strategy is to strengthen our position as a wholesale buyer and aggregator of network capacity with a quality network and become a digital services provider,” said chief technology officer Schalk Visser in a statement.

“Through its expanded roaming agreement with MTN, Cell C will have access to more than 12 500 4G/LTE-ready sites for its prepaid and MVNO customers across the country, with completion scheduled for late 2023,” he said.

‘Impossible’

“If our strategy were to play catch up to the Vodacom and MTN networks, we would have to invest R1.5 billion/year for 18 years – conservatively estimated at R27 billion – based on the assumption that we would be able to build 400 new cellular sites per year, and assuming Vodacom and MTN did not build any new sites during this period. This investment in our network infrastructure would be impossible to maintain.”

As part of the project, Cell C will decommission its physical RAN, including towers, antennae, radio and transmission equipment, while MTN will provision a virtual RAN for its clients.

“Cell C will use its own spectrum on this virtual RAN and manage the customer experience. As a mobile network operator, Cell C is still responsible for its spectrum licences, core network, transport network, billing system and subscriber management,” Visser said.

“This approach will significantly reduce network expenses and capital expenditure, allowing the newly positioned technology company to be profitable, access best-in-class infrastructure, benefit from scale, improve customer experience, focus on innovating products and services, and be able to pass on value to customers.” — © 2021 NewsCentral Media

This article was first published on TechCentral here.

Read: Cell C reports R5.5bn full-year loss

Read: Cell C losses widen as hunts for profitable customers

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