Telkom could switch off its 2G network in the next 12 months as the number of legacy handsets on its mobile infrastructure dwindles.
Speaking to TechCentral on Tuesday, Telkom Group CEO Sipho Maseko said the company has only 250 000 2G-only customers left on its network out of a base of more than 6.5 million.
Maseko said he is keen to switch off the 2G network as soon as possible so that the spectrum can be redeployed for 3G and 4G/LTE services. It is likely to be the first major mobile network operator in South Africa to do so — Vodacom, MTN and Cell C all have a larger base of legacy 2G users.
“One of the things we have been actively managing is migrating customers from legacy to new. The primary area to start was obviously copper… The migration from 2G will, in a sense, follow the same process.”
2G is expensive to manage, Maseko said. “My intention is to use the next 12 months to migrate and then optimise the network for 3G and 4G.”
He said the recently signed roaming agreement with Vodacom, which covers 2G, 3G and 4G/LTE, could even accelerate the switch-off of Telkom’s 2G network as its last remaining 2G-only customers could roam on Vodacom’s network instead.
“There is still a big conversation taking place between myself and the engineering team. Their view is switch it off, take the cost out and then look at what is reusable,” he said. “We are not taking any more 2G customers. If we can get them to roam on the Vodacom network, that would be a fantastic opportunity, because then I can switch it off even earlier.”
He added that Telkom’s 2G customers are “by far” the lowest Arpu generators for the company. Arpu is average revenue per user and is a key telecommunications industry performance metric.
Maseko said Telkom has also begun work on 5G and has started identifying sites for possible roll-out. He said the company is doing laboratory testing of 5G technology and intends to hold a demonstration of its capabilities soon. — © 2018 NewsCentral Media