SA’s smallest mobile operator, Cell C, plans to spend as much as R5bn in 2010 on new network infrastructure. Much of this money is expected to be used to construct a 3G network capable of delivering broadband at speeds of up to 21Mbit/s.
The company’s move comes at the same time that fixed-line operator Telkom is building a 3G network. Telkom has said it will spend about R6bn over five years building its mobile network, with much of this investment to happen in the next two years.
“We are going to build an HSPA+ 3G network capable of delivering 21Mbit/s throughput,” says Cell C CEO Lars Reichelt, pictured. Until now, the fastest 3G networks in SA have offered speeds of 7,2Mbit/s, so Cell C’s network will represent a three-fold improvement in download speeds.
Reichelt says Cell C is still negotiating with equipment manufacturers for the supply of equipment to build its 3G network. “I can’t say exactly what we’re going to do yet, but we will be making very substantial investments.”
He says Cell C’s planned investment will include spending money on fibre-optic infrastructure to connect its base stations to its backhaul network.
Funding for the network expansion has been raised by shareholders, Reichelt says. All parties are contributing, including CellSaf, Cell C’s black economic empowerment shareholder.
The 3G network will make use of all the frequencies that Cell C has access to. These are the 900MHz, 1,8GHz and 2,1GHz bands. Cell C will be the first network operator in SA to deploy a 3G network at 900MHz, which is seen as better suited to offering broadband services outside the major metropolitan areas. — Duncan McLeod, TechCentral