As the annual MyBroadband conference got underway in Johannesburg, it become clear that the overall theme will span LTE, connectivity and quality of mobile service operators.
Before the discussion got too serious, Vodacom CEO Shameel Jousub was asked which mobile handset he prefer – to which he answered if he had to choose only one handset, it would be Samsung’s Galaxy S3.
On a more serious note, Jousub said that South Africa is getting ready for a massive data explosion. “Yes, we can expect a data explosion. We have been making transformations in the network, and constantly upgrading it. At this point, about 75% of our network is upgraded, LTE ready and this gives us the ability to upgrade it further in the future,” he said.
In terms of government holding all the cards when it comes to spectrum allocation, Jousub said that Vodacom should be taking on a leadership role. “In terms of the Department of Communication, Vodacom needs to be in a leadership position. We have to say to government that we need to deliver in 2020 and Vodacom is ready to step up and achieve that goal. Look at our strategy, we need to speed it up dramatically and we need to create an ecosystem.”
Speaking of spectrum allocation, Jousub added that South Africa is about three to five years away from having the 800Mhz spectrum, while adding that there needs to be a plan for the future to create the right ecosystem for Vodacom to deliver.
“We need to agree on what we need to achieve so that we can make the 2020 goal,” he said.
Asked by Rudolf Muller, MyBroadband’s editor, what their future strategy will be amid a fiercely competitive market, he added that Vodacom will be competitive in every market and customers will see a transformation in their prices and strategy.
Moving on to mobile handsets, Jousub confirmed that Apple’s iPhone 5 will definitely be available on Vodacom before the end of the year.
In terms of upgrading the network and the road ahead, he added that they have been hard at work. “What we say has to be based on substance. Four years ago we built our own transmission network, most of which are now on our own backend. If you don’t have that, you don’t get the quality. We have been investing R7-billiion per year now for upgrades, with a big focus is network quality,” he said.
He also added that as part of their upgrades, they have investigated the feasibility of putting small base stations on light poles.
Jousub also announced that LTE is officially live in South Africa, but added that Vodacom will be in favour of mobile operators collaborating on LTE. “Vodacom is open to collaborating on LTE, and we have had some discussions on the matter.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor