Neotel spectrum not enough for 4G: Vodacom

Vodacom Group CEO Shameel Joosub says that, while Neotel’s spectrum would give it some breathing room, it would not solve the operator’s spectrum needs.

Joosub was speaking at the 2014 MyBroadband Conference in Midrand on Tuesday (30 September), explaining how Neotel would benefit the group’s business.

Vodacom and Neotel entered into exclusive discussions regarding a potential acquisition of 100% of the shares of Neotel by Vodacom, in September last year.

The deal is valued at R7 billion, and is currently open for public comment as part of a competition commission process.

The process is expected to be completed by the end of 2014 or early 2015, according to Joosub, though the Vodacom chief said he couldn’t rightly say.

It was previously speculated that the main focus of the acquisition was for Vodacom to gain Neotel’s spectrum – much needed for the group’s next generation mobile networks.

However, Joosub contested this, saying that the overall focus was more in-line with a capital investment strategy.

“Fixed-line is a focus, and Neotel gives us fixed capability,” he said.

“We can tuck Vodacom’s fixed-line business in, and keep it (Neotel) independent.”

“Secondly, we will be acquiring a customer base – effectively capital investments; there’s also 16,000 kilometres of fibre.”

“There is also spectrum…but even that doesn’t solve our spectrum needs, to be frank. But it does give us some breathing room.”

Spectrum is a crucial part of Vodacom’s future plans, as next generation mobile broadband competition heats up.

Telkom announced that it would be launching its 4G – LTE-Advanced – network in December 2014, with plans to roll out the service to 50 areas by March 2015.

Last week (23 September) Vodacom performed a live demonstration of Long Term Evolution (LTE) Advanced technology on its cellular network at the Dome in Vodacom World.

Vodacom CTO Andries Delport demonstrated mobiles speeds as high as 270Mbps running on the network, adding that group has upgraded equipment at every site across the country.

This means that Vodacom is 4G ready across its entire network, Joosub noted.

“We could switch on 4G tomorrow, if we had the spectrum,” he said.

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Neotel spectrum not enough for 4G: Vodacom