South African operator Vodacom is to spend more than $27 million to add network capacity during the lockdown that is in place while the country tries to manage the spread of the coronavirus.
The company has said that it will spend the $27 million over two months to add network capacity and increase network resilience during the lockdown period and to help cope with any possible load shedding. This includes accelerating the installation of smart energy management solutions and supplementary network capacity.
Vodacom says it has also secured permits from government to enable its field teams to continue performing their critical duties, such as repairs and upgrades to key communications infrastructure. Vodacom has also ordered spare parts needed for maintenance in advance.
This initiative is taking place in the wake of traffic surges that are affecting most operators as more people work at home or simply use the internet a great deal more during the national lockdown.
It certainly seems necessary given that South Africa has imposed a five-week lockdown lasting until the end of April. Vodacom has said that it expects network traffic to increase even further as customers connect for longer after it implemented price cuts of up to 40 percent on its 30-day data bundles and launched a range of free essential services available through its zero-rated ConnectU platform on 1 April.
The statement by Vodacom comes hard on the heels of yesterday’s news that South African regulator ICASA has received around 35 applications for temporary licences for what is referred to as high-demand spectrum. Vodacom has said that it has applied to ICASA for temporary spectrum and is waiting for its application to be evaluated.