Tag: Vodacom

Source: MyBroadband

Vodacom has taken over all upgrades, credit vetting and collections for Cell C’s contract customers after they were moved to Vodacom’s network, an industry insider said.

Cell C started to migrate its contract and broadband subscribers to Vodacom’s network in mid-December, a process which was expected to last two months.

The decision took many people by surprise as Cell C is building a “virtual network” in partnership with MTN and has a national roaming agreement with the mobile operator in place.

It was widely speculated that Cell C sold its contract and broadband subscriber base to Vodacom in a deal which involved Comm Equipment Company (CEC).

CEC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Blue Label Telecoms which was founded in 2015 with a contract to supply and finance all devices supplied by Cell C to the market.

Blue Label Telecoms, which owns 45% of Cell C, recently said the business model of this financing arrangement indirectly exposes it to the credit risk of Cell C.

Blue Label Telecoms’ management, however, said it has effectively mitigated this risk through the operational model used and the “very high collateral requirements” which are in place.

As part of this agreement, Blue Label Telecoms and CEC have the right to sell Cell C’s contract customer base in the event of a default by Cell C.

Blue Label and CEC agreement with Cell-C

Considering Cell C’s dismal financial situation and the strange decision to move its contract customers Vodacom and not MTN, it is no surprise that many industry players thought a sale took place.

Cell C, Vodacom, and Blue Label Telecoms have, however, vehemently denied that any sale of subscribers took place.

Instead, Cell C said the migration of its customers to Vodacom forms part of its “network roaming model” which will see it become South Africa’s largest wholesale buyer of network capacity and infrastructure services from Vodacom and MTN.

While Cell C and Vodacom are trying to make the migration look like a simple roaming agreement, many industry players are disputing this.

One industry insider told MyBroadband Vodacom has taken over all upgrades, credit vetting, and collections for Cell C’s contract customers as part of the agreement.

This should not come as a surprise. TechFinancials reported in October 2020 that CEC planned to subcontract Vodacom to handle its credit vetting, call centre, billing, and collections for Cell C’s contract customers.

TechFinancials further reported that after the migration to Vodacom has been completed, Cell C customers will see Vodacom as their mobile provider.

MyBroadband can confirm that this is indeed the case. Instead of showing Cell C as their carrier name, contract subscribers are now shown Vodacom as their provider (see screenshot below).

Cell C contract subscriber home screen

With Vodacom reportedly taking over numerous services for Cell C’s contract subscribers and also serving all their network needs, these subscribers are now close to being Vodacom subscribers.

It is currently not clear if Cell C is still providing any services to its contract subscribers, or whether they are now essentially Vodacom subscribers, albeit unofficially.

MyBroadband asked Cell C for further information about its relationship with Vodacom, but the company would not provide any details.

Instead, it said “these commercial agreements, their existence and their terms are confidential between Cell C and the counter parties to the contract”.

Vodacom would also not answer any questions regarding its relationship, saying it is “contractually precluded from commenting on this”.

 

By Hanno Labuschagne for MyBroadband 

Vodacom customers in the Free State farming town of Frankfort were left without cellular connectivity for several days after the operator’s tower in the area was turned off.

A resident of the neighbouring town of Reitz contacted MyBroadband claiming that agriculture company VKB (Vrystaatse Koöperasie Beperk) switched the tower off on Monday 30 November because Vodacom had failed to pay for its electricity usage for over two years.

“The tower was on one of VKB grain silos and they warned Vodacom about it,” the resident said.

He stated that the community of Frankfort was furious about the situation.

MTN previously told MyBroadband that operators would typically enter into a ground rental lease agreement with a private property owner – like VKB – in the event that a network coverage or capacity gap is identified.

The rental fee would be related to space usage and electricity consumption, and is market-related and aligned to a willing landlord-tenant lease agreement.

Vodacom responds
Vodacom confirmed to MyBroadband that the tower was switched off due to a dispute with the landlord, although it did not elaborate on the nature of the issue.

The matter had since been resolved and the site was back online, with connectivity restored in the area as of the morning of Wednesday 2 December.

“We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused,” Vodacom said.

VKB told MyBroadband that the dispute had been resolved in an amicable manner.

“We don’t deem it necessary to further labour the incident in the public domain,” the company said.

Telkom tower
This is not the first known instance of a landlord who switched off a mobile tower after a payment dispute.

A MyBroadband reader has previously twice switched off the Telkom cellphone tower on his property after the mobile network repeatedly failed to pay him for the electricity to run the infrastructure.

Telkom signed a 10-year lease with the owner of a commercial building in Glenhazel, Johannesburg, to erect a cellphone base station on the building, providing mobile coverage to Telkom customers in the surrounding area.

According to the owner, the agreement stated that Telkom would pay a monthly rental amount for its cellphone tower, as well as reimburse the owner for the electricity required to run the hardware.

The landlord also had a Cell C tower on his property, for which he said he is always compensated on time according to the terms of that lease agreement, which includes payment for the correct electricity consumption.

 

Source: Telecom Paper

Vodacom South Africa says it has spent R1-billion on batteries over the last six months to ensure its network stayed up during loadshedding, MyBroadband reported.

Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said the power outages this year forced the operator to increase its back-up power investment.

South Africa suffered the worst ever load-shedding in 2020, with total gigawatt-hours shed surpassing the 2019 record in August. In September, the cumulative load-shedding for 2020 was already 23% worse than the whole of 2019.

To create a robust mobile network, Vodacom directed 20 percent of its R5-billion capital expenditure over the last six months towards back-up power.

To buy and install new batteries at mobile sites is only part of the challenge as criminals are wrecking mobile networks to get their hands on the batteries, which are then sold on the black market.

Joosub said Vodacom is losing around R150-million per year because of battery theft, which is an ongoing battle.

 

Vodacom in talks to buy Vumatel, DFA

Source: Telecom Paper

Vodacom South Africa is in discussions with Remgro to acquire Community Investment Ventures Holdings (CIVH), which owns Vumatel and Dark Fibre Africa (DFA), reports MyBroadband citing sources.

Remgro said it does not comment on speculation. CIVH acquired 34.9 percent of Vumatel for an undisclosed amount in June 2018 and the remaining 65.1 percent in May 2019.

Vodacom’s interest in Vumatel did not die down after the CIVH acquisition. The two companies started discussions in May 2018, when Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said the operator wanted to become a bigger player in the fibre-to-the-home market.

After the acquisition, Vumatel started working in tandem with DFA to provide fibre access to South African businesses and homes. Their fibre rollout in recent years is impressive. Vumatel and DFA’s 29 300km fibre network serves every key metro in South Africa. It passes 690 000 premises and connects 11 500 mobile base stations and 240 000 homes and businesses.

MyBroadband said the details of what such a deal may look like remain sketchy but it is widely accepted that Vodacom would have to pay a premium for this asset. Remgro has invested a large amount of money and resources into building CIVH into a strong fibre player.

Source: MyBroadband

New evidence has revealed widespread airtime theft and fraudulent WASP subscriptions on Vodacom’s network, showing that the company failed to act decisively against the criminals.

The latest evidence follows an industry investigation which revealed airtime theft on a mass scale from Vodacom’s prepaid customers.

What sets the latest evidence apart is that it comes from a prominent company which uses machine-to-machine communications and IoT devices with prepaid SIMs from Vodacom.

It is therefore impossible for these SIMs to pro-actively subscribe to WASP services, which means this data provides conclusive evidence of fraudulent subscriptions and airtime theft.

The company’s chief executive, who asked to remain anonymous because of his relationship with Vodacom, told MyBroadband hundreds of their SIMs have been hit by airtime theft.

The company experienced theft on both brand-new SIMs and SIMs which have been in devices for years.

He said Vodacom refuses to acknowledge any problem and added that it is very difficult to get refunds for the stolen airtime.

Only around 5% to 10% of the airtime theft which they logged with Vodacom were refunded.

He said it requires considerable effort to get a refund, which is further complicated as it is impossible to approach Vodacom with a list of SIMs from which airtime was stolen.

“You need to phone in as a single prepaid customer and go through the motions of trying to convince them that the SIM is in a device with no human access,” he said.

“You have to hound them repeatedly to get the refund to be processed, and you often just give up after a while.”

The evidence further showed that the same WASPs continue to steal airtime from SIMs long after it was reported to Vodacom.

The data provided to MyBroadband stretches back for many months and conclusively proves:

  • There is widespread fraud and airtime theft on Vodacom’s network to this day.
  • Vodacom was made aware of this fraud and airtime theft, for a long time, but failed to act decisively.
  • The same companies continue to steal airtime from Vodacom’s subscribers.

By Natasha Odendaal for Creamer Media’s Engineering News 

Telecommunications giant Vodacom has started engaging communities to intensify security around its base stations to guard against vandalism and battery theft.

Community members will be recruited, trained and accredited – working with police – serving as “monitoring personnel” under a new model to secure its sites.

“Incidents of base station vandalism have significantly gotten worse over the last few years,” said Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub, noting that the crime is being perpetuated by organised syndicates that always find new ways to commit this type of crime.

“Our security teams on the ground have observed that quite often syndicates target base stations in far-flung and secluded areas because they know it will take police a long time to react. Hence, our sites in remote areas are repeatedly hit,” said Vodacom Group chief risk officer Johan Van Graan.

Theft and vandalism, and its subsequent damage, is costing network providers hundreds of millions of rands worth of damage every year.

Vodacom reported a 35% increase year-on-year in the number of battery thefts at its base stations, with an average of 600 incidents a month of sites impacted by theft or damage.

“We are losing between R120-million and R130-million to vandalism and theft each year. Nonetheless, we are not sitting on our laurels and are fighting back by coming up with innovative measures to stem the tide of battery theft,” Joosub assured.

Vodacom is testing a new model to secure its sites by forging partnerships with members of the community.

“As part of this new model, we recruit local people to serve as monitoring personnel to be our eyes and ears on the ground and provide us critical information police can use to effect arrests,” Van Graan said.

Locals will be trained and accredited, and linked with the local policing community forum and local South African Police Services to provide support when arrests must happen.

“In all the provinces where this model is currently being tested, it has yielded positive results,” he said, citing a substantial reduction in break-ins at at-risk sites owing to the enlistment of local people to secure its sites.

“This demonstrates that the number-one line of defence against site vandalism is the local community and vigilant community members who report incidents of battery theft or site vandalism to police,” he added.

Each theft incident can result in the network in that area being down for days, and can severely impact businesses, as well as anyone relying on the Internet to study and remain in contact with friends and family.

Vodacom plans to spend R1-billion in the current financial year to ensure its network is able to cope with widespread electricity blackouts, which will include intensified security around the telco’s base station sites and the installation of additional batteries and generators to ensure connectivity during load-shedding.

By Natasha Odendaal for Creamer Media

Telecommunications group Vodacom South Africa plans to accelerate its network spend over the next two months.

Over R500-million has been set aside to add network capacity and increase network resilience during South Africa’s lockdown period and to help cope with any possible load-shedding.

This will include accelerating the installation of smart energy management solutions and supplementary network capacity.

“Vodacom is doing everything possible to ensure that we maintain our network service quality during this unprecedented time, with a notable increase in traffic already under way,” says Vodacom Group CTO Andries Delport.

“We are monitoring all traffic patterns daily and prioritising key network upgrades to add capacity and maintain the quality of services delivered to our customers where required,” he continued.

Vodacom is experiencing sustained peak traffic patterns for almost the entire day as South Africans are dependent on the network to stay in touch, work from home and keep entertained.

Prior to the lockdown, traffic typically peaked during certain hours of the day.

Vodacom expects network traffic to increase even further as customers connect for longer after it implemented price cuts of up to 40% on its 30-day data bundles and launched a range of free essential services available through its zero-rated ConnectU platform on 1 April, Delport added.

Vodacom also welcomed the temporary allocation of currently unused spectrum to help operators cope with the increased traffic demand.

Vodacom has applied to the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa for temporary spectrum and is now awaiting the evaluation of the application.

“We are hopeful that we will be able to gain temporary access to spectrum to enable additional capacity to be added in the quickest and most cost-effective manner as traffic increases further.”

Vodacom slashes data prices by up to 40%

Source: Tech Financials

Vodacom has cut data prices by up to 40% and will provide free data to access essential services through Vodacom’s zero-rated platform ConnectU with immediate effect.

The value of these initiatives is some R2.7-billion over the next year.

Vodacom’s various 30-day data bundle prices will be cut across all of its channels by up to 40%, providing customers with even greater value and making it more affordable to connect.

30-day bundle size price reduction

  • 50MB R12 – cut by 40%
  • 150MB R29 – cut by 33%
  • 325MB R55 – cut by 33%
  • 500MB R79 – cut by 21%
  • 1GB R99 – cut by 34%
  • 3GB R229 – cut by 23%
  • 5GB R349 – cut by 14%
  • 10GB R469 – cut by 22%
  • 20GB R699 – cut by 31%

Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit, says: “Vodacom can play a critical role in supporting society during this challenging time and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help customers stay connected. Since we started our pricing transformation strategy three years ago, our customers have benefitted from significant reductions in data prices and the cost of voice calls. Over the same period, we invested over R26 billion in infrastructure and new technologies, so our customers enjoy wider 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and vastly increased data speeds.”

The latest data reductions will complement the discounted bundle offers that will also be made available to prepaid customers in more than 2,000 less affluent suburbs and villages around the country. For qualifying communities to access further discounted voice and data deals, they need to simply click on the scrolling ConnectU banner on the platform via connectu.vodacom.co.za

ConnectU – which is a zero-rated platform – also goes live today. It will provide content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services for free. Learners and students enrolled in schools and universities can access relevant information for free, with no data costs.

The ConnectU portal includes a search engine linked to open sources such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary as well as free access to job portals; free educational content on the e-School platform; free health and wellness information and free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.

Vodacom’s popular Just4You platform has been a significant contributor to the approximately 50% reduction in effective data prices over the past two years. Substantial cuts in out-of-bundle tariffs and the introduction of hourly, daily and weekly bundles with much lower effective prices have also driven increased value and affordability, resulting in R2 billion in savings for customers in 2019.

This latest announcement is part of Vodacom’s social contract with the public and has been extensively discussed and agreed with the Competition Commission.

“Today’s price cuts and free access to ConnectU will also assist South Africans during the national state of disaster while at the same time helping to drive greater digital inclusion,” concludes Mendes.

Source: CNBC Africa

South African insurance company Discovery and mobile operator Vodacom are teaming up to offer a free, online doctor consultation service to all South Africans with coronavirus-related concerns.

Discovery had already set up an online service for its own customers but had put it on ice due to a regulatory hold-up. Now it will be open for anyone.

The R20-million ($1.11-million) cost of the first 100 000 consultations will be split between the two companies. Doctors sign up to the service voluntarily, with more than 5 000 registered so far.

Vodacom will also provide free access to the platform via mobile data, but only with a Vodacom sim card, meaning users will have to already be a customer or sign up to Vodacom to access the service.

Discovery CEO Adrian Gore said there was no financial benefit to the insurer from the partnership, and it would not receive a share in any revenues Vodacom earned from new customers.

He added that sources of funding would have to be explored if the number of consultations went above 100,000.

Gore also told Reuters that the company was modelling the potential impact the coronavirus will have on claims, with its businesses in South Africa and Britain a focus.

“Covid-19 claims are certainly going to go up and we’re modelling that, but the cost of other health events are going down quite dramatically, people are not going for elective surgery, so there’s a bit of a counter balance,” he said.

There was also a much higher risk of mortality claims too, he continued, adding the insurer was “preparing carefully” for this outcome.

By Yolisa Tswanya for IOL

They said it could’ve been slashed even further, but consumers have for now accepted a 34% reduction in Vodacom’s data prices.

Yesterday, it became the first network giant to comply with the Competition Commission’s call to lower data prices.

Morné Grewe said he was happy a decision has finally been made: “It will make a difference for many people.

“Even though it’s by 34%, it is a step in the right direction.

“It will make a difference to people and they won’t be spending so much per month on data.”

Beronisha Cloete said she found Vodacom to have good coverage but high prices: “I have never had any real problems with them.

“It can be a little lower, but it is what it is and we accept it.”

Nomzamo Balangile said the price reduction would allow her to buy data more regularly.

“I don’t always buy data because it’s expensive, but now maybe I will be able to buy more times a month,” she added. “I am glad they are lowering the price.”

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