Vodacom wants to turn off 2G in 5 years

By Staff reporter | 22 Oct 2019 at 16:59hrs
Vodacom plans to turn off its 2G network in five years, although there are a number of challenges to overcome before this can be accomplished.

This is according to Jorge Mendes, Vodacom's chief officer of the company's consumer business unit, who was speaking at a media event at Vodacom World in Midrand.

"We are working to turn off the 2G network in five to six years," Mendes said. "If we could, we would do it immediately, but there are a number of challenges involved."

"It needs to be an industry-led initiative, otherwise no matter what we invest, we will not be able to accomplish it quickly. There needs to be a regulatory framework."

"We are trying to make sure it is less than five years," Mendes added.

Once it is switched off, the spectrum allocated to the company's 2G network can be re-farmed to improve the capacity of its 4G network, although there will always be some devices running over 2G within the machine-to-machine market.

"There will always be a thin 2G layer for machine-to-machine devices," Mendes said. "This would be used for devices like speed points, water meters, and trackers – we will not disconnect those."

However, all data and voice customers will be moved from the 2G network to 3G and 4G.

Bringing down data prices

Mendes added that Vodacom has an ongoing initiative to reduce its data prices, which would be greatly assisted by both the shutdown of its 2G network and the acquisition of additional spectrum.

He noted that for certain data bundles, the price per MB has dropped below the cost to carry, which was a tactical decision by Vodacom to offer customers greater value.

"If we do get access to spectrum eventually, that will help," Mendes said. "If we switch off 2G that will help, too."

Speaking at the MyBroadband Conference last week, Mendes said that the price of data on Vodacom's network has dropped by 40%, with out-of-bundle prices falling by 70%.

The company has also reduced the price of handsets for customers by creating a range of smartphone contracts which run over 36 months, providing customers with a lower per-month fee.

With no new spectrum allocation, however, Vodacom will have to balance these price cuts with the capital investment it makes every year in its network.

Mendes said that Vodacom spends billions of rand on its network infrastructure, which is a requirement to ensure it maintains a world-class network.



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