Vodacom KwaZulu Natal Region to accelerate broadband connectivity in rural areas

transmission tower 1017149 640Vodacom KwaZulu Natal Region will invest more than US$20mn into the network across the province during the 2020/2021 financial year

The lion’s share of capital expenditure will be spent on the construction of new LTE base stations in both urban and deep rural areas of the province. The acceleration of the network will help to remove barriers to communication, provide fast internet access and help drive digital inclusion among communities in rural areas of the province.

The availability of high-speed broadband is crucial to deep rural development, but research shows that deep rural communities are lagging behind in terms of broadband connectivity, excluding many from digital transformation. Providing network connectivity for people living in rural areas remains central to Vodacom’s commitment to bridge the digital divide.

Ishmael Mathinya, executive head for operations for Vodacom KwaZulu Natal Region, said, “We have always maintained that the vital differentiator for us is the quality, strength and reliability of our network. At Vodacom, we believe investing in our network ensures that we deliver best-in-class coverage and customer service, not only to urban areas but to people who dwell in the township and deep rural areas as well, so they are well-positioned to take advantage of the benefits of the Digital Revolution. This is why we are deploying more sites in rural areas in this financial period in areas which did not previously have network access.”

The capital expenditure of the Vodacom KwaZulu Natal Region will go towards the deployment of more than 50 new base stations across the province, 27 of which have already been switched on. An additional 19 are planned for deep rural areas until the end of the financial year 2021.

With a significant investment in broadband connectivity, particularly in rural areas, the region has increased its LTE footprint from 56% to just over 94% over the last two years, reaching over 99% of the population in the broader KwaZulu Natal province.

The share of capital expenditure will be used to roll out ultra-fast fibres, as well as to accelerate digital inclusion. For example, 56km of fibre will be installed in Newcastle from Newcastle, Madadeni, Oswezwini and Blaauwbousch back to Newcastle. The project will be completed on 22 December 2020. The National Long Route Fiber Construction from Durban, Scottsburg, Port Shepstone, Harding to Kokstad will be completed by the end of the financial year 2021.

Upgrades will increase network capacity, allowing the region to provide customers with superfast internet speeds, high-quality voice and reduced calls. In particular, the investment will ensure that many people who only have access to 2G and 3G will be able to access the Internet for the first time through 4G/LTE and superfast fibre networks.

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