Vodacom offers speediest broadband


South African internet users may
expect faster and more reliable modems.

Vodacom’s CEO Pieter Uys said the
company wants to increase network
(Images: Bongani Nkosi)

Belinda Williams
Investor Relations
+27 11 653 5195

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With the introduction of its double-speed HSPA+ technology, Vodacom can now boast of having the fastest mobile broadband network in South Africa.

The mobile operator has become the first to upgrade its network speed to 43.2 Mbps. This is currently the fastest on the market dominated by 21.2 Mbps networks.

Cell C laid claim to the fastest connectivity when it started rolling out its HSPA+ 900 network across the country late in 2010, but Vodacom’s new offering has trumped that.

The improved network has been branded SuperMobile, and was announced to the public on 16 April 2011. Its new modems also went on sale on that date.

“If something half the speed was already fast, we should call this new technology super-fast. The SuperMobile experience isn’t about theoretical peak speeds only achievable in laboratories,” said Vodacom CEO Pieter Uys.

“We’re much more interested in how this technology increases network capacity and supports our goal of giving a decent connection speed to everyone in South Africa,” he added.

The average downloading speed on Vodacom was 4.75 Mbps as of 17 April, according to the latest Ookla Net Index. This is vastly faster than the 2.38 Mbps recorded on 13 December last year.

It has surpassed Cell C’s download speed, which currently stands at 3.91 Mbps, but did reach a peak of 4.62 Mbps in December. MTN’s Network Solutions seem to have some catching up to do, as the Ookla index puts its average download speed at 2.42 Mbps.

The local broadband sector has been highly active recently, upgrading its infrastructure to offer improved internet performance.

Vodacom’s improved speed is a result of infrastructure overhaul at 1 000 base stations in major South African cities.

The group said it had to improve at least 1000 base stations before it could launch its double-speed technology. “We wanted to make sure that we had the service available in more than just one city,” Uys said.

Vodacom said 1 000 more stations will be able to support the improved network in the next six weeks.

Uys also said that their network covers more areas in the country compared to any other operator.

“We’ve already got the widest data coverage in South Africa by some margin, but with this technology available through so many sites, I think we can also stake our claim to have the fastest network as well.”

The new technology clears the way for a future upgrade to 86.4 Mbps, which would greatly advance internet connectivity in the country.

Cell C and MTN double-speeds are next

Cell C and MTN are also preparing to introduce their 43.2 Mbps double-speed networks. The My Broadband website recently reported that Cell C will launch its first 43.2 Mbps HSPA+ network in Port Elizabeth on 19 April.

MTN is also busy rolling out its 43.2Mbps network.

The network enhancements come at a time when the number of internet users across South Africa is rising rapidly, with an additional 1-million users expected to emerge during the course of this year.

Technology research firm World Wide Worx predicts that up to 7.8-million people in the country will be using the internet by the end of 2011. That would be a substantial increase from the 6.8-million users recorded in 2010.