Cell C has begun the planned migration of its customers off its radio access network as it moves to shut down this infrastructure to save costs. But instead of the clients being migrated to its new partner, MTN, the company said on Wednesday that the initial batch of customers is moving to the Vodacom network.
The migration has begun with contract and broadband customers, and it’s due to be completed in the next two months, Cell C said.
The news would seem to suggest a new roaming agreement of some kind with Vodacom, a development the market was not expecting, especially after Cell C loudly trumpeted its “expanded” roaming agreement with MTN last year. Cell C confirmed it continues to roam on the Vodacom network, telling TechCentral: “We have expanded our agreement with Vodacom.”
Cell C told TechCentral earlier on Wednesday that it has roaming agreements with “a couple of infrastructure telco partners, namely MTN and Vodacom”.
“The migration of contract and broadband customers arises from our network roaming agreement with Vodacom, and prepaid customer migration will be confirmed in due course,” it said.
The move comes as Cell C looks to reduce capital expenditure and ease the pressure on its balance sheet, which, ahead of a planned recapitalisation, remains a noose around its neck.
“Cell C is making progress with the implementation of its network strategy as part of its turnaround strategy, aimed at improving overall operational efficiency and adopting an operating model to partner with the best-of-breed on both infrastructure and services,” the company said in a general press statement on Wednesday.
Cell C will decommission its own towers in a “phased approach”.
“Our strategic vision is to differentiate ourselves by focusing on innovative products and services without being owners of capital-intensive infrastructure. This creates more flexibility and capacity to deliver the right quality of service to our current and future customers,” said Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson in the statement.
“In response to a vastly changed business environment, the adoption of the network roaming model will promote more resourceful use of the telecommunications infrastructure capacity in the country, improve the overall network connectivity and provide Cell C customers with a better customer experience.”
To minimise any impact on service, Cell C said its customers should activate “data roaming” manually in their phone settings. “If you have a router you will need to do this via a PC,” it said. Apple device users are not impacted. — © 2020 NewsCentral Media
- This article has been extensively updated from its original version to reflect the agreement between Cell C and Vodacom