Bumper World Cup for mobile operators - TechCentral

Bumper World Cup for mobile operators

Local mobile operators handled booming traffic volumes during the 2010 soccer World Cup.

Vodacom enjoyed a 40% increase in SMS traffic over the month, with 600m text messages sent.

“In some cases, the traffic on a single base station increased by more than 500% compared to just prior to the start of the tournament,” says Vodacom’s executive director of network and information technology, Andries Delport.

He says Vodacom dedicated more than 15 000 manhours to operational support to keep the company’s networks running efficiently.

“Once the fans started arriving, in addition to our normal 24/7 monitoring of the network, a dedicated network operations centre was set up and manned from 8am to 1am on match days,” says Delport.

Cell C boosted traffic to three times the normal levels on in-bound roaming calls. “Before and after each of the games call volumes were very high,” says Cell C CEO Lars Reichelt.

He says in the same period last year the traffic levels were 70% lower than during this month, and SMS traffic increased by more than 15% while the World Cup was on.

The first African sponsor of the event, MTN did not have readily available figures at the time of publication, However, its traffic volumes are likely to show a similar increase as its rivals’.

Through its partnership with Match, MTN sold 600 000 specialised tourist Sim cards. MTN has not yet confirmed how many of these Sims were activated.  — Staff reporter, TechCentral


  1. 15,000 man hours sounds impressive until you do the math. It’s 62 people working 8 hours a day for a month. Pretty amazing that 62 people can reliably increase the network’s capacity by 40%!

    If this is all it takes, why don’t they have this kind of team working full time?

    And then a few weeks ago we have Pieter Uys saying they can’t do uncapped 3G because they don’t have the capacity. These companies should really coordinate their bragging/excuses/lying better.

  2. Jannie van Zyl on

    Greg, the 15K man-hours and the 40% are two different metrics. And different from the requirements to run 3G uncapped.

    For many months before the world cup started, towers in areas with expected traffic increase (stadiums and fan-parks, for example) were upgraded to carry the anticipated increase in traffic.

    The 15K hours were additional operational work in a dedicated ‘World Cup’ NOC to resolve WC specific problems (like roaming issues and real-time tuning of the network as load massively changed at a specific times, for example during a game.

    Uncapped 3G would require a permanent nationwide upgrade of the air interface and back-haul. Given enough spectrum and fiber to each tower, it’s do-able, but neither these are readily available.

  3. @Jannie: Re: different metrics – not really, the article stated there was 40% more traffic on the network, and it needed 15k man hours to keep the network running efficiently. I don’t want to be the one accusing Duncan of vague reporting! I accept it wasn’t an evenly spread increase, which should make it even easier to keep the major centers working well under predictable day-to-day circumstances.

    The World Cup tower upgrades aren’t really relevant, as the cellphone companies should be incrementally upgrading their towers and infrastructure in areas of higher usage as time goes on.

    >>Uncapped 3G would require a permanent nationwide upgrade of the air interface and back-haul.

    Well the back-haul upgrade is a given – they have to do that whatever happens, to keep up with telecomms progress, and the worldwide trend is for providers to push more data than voice, so at some point they’re going to have to find a way to deliver more data, uncapped or not! MTN’s done uncapped, so it’s obviously possible. Well, MTN is soft-capped (Iburst style … which I think is the best and fairest way, actually) – it’s only a matter of time until someone pulls an Mweb and does a reasonably priced uncapped 3G solution, and suddenly all these much touted problems will go away and people will find ways to deliver it. Everyone said uncapped ADSL for Mweb’s prices were unsustainable, and it’s quite clear that it’s absolutely sustainable.

  4. Article amended to make it clear that the 40% increase in traffic on Vodacom refers to SMSes, not total network traffic.

  5. Greg can you explain what all these caped or uncapped thing is all about seeing you not technological challenged

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