Three well-placed, independent sources have told MyBroadband BusinessTech that Cell C CEO, Alan Knott-Craig is in discussions to try to secure a 3G roaming agreement to compliment the company’s 2G roaming agreement with Vodacom.
Cell C lags behind Vodacom and MTN when it comes to 3G coverage in South Africa. This was partly caused by former Cell C CEO, Jeffrey Hedberg’s decision to not invest in a 3G network when his competitors invested in faster data networks.
In 2008, Hedberg said that, while Cell C had a 3G-ready core network, ‘3G is hype and we won’t fall prey to hype’. At the time, Hedberg said that Cell C could not justify investing money into something [3G/HSDPA] that does not offer a good return on investment.
Hedberg’s view was proven to be short-sighted, and in 2009, Cell C announced that it would be investing R5-billion in an HSPA+ network offering speeds of up to 21 Mbps.
Cell C has made good progress with its HSPA+ network rollout, but it is no secret that the company is struggling with network quality and coverage in many regions.
New Cell C CEO, Alan Knott-Craig has said that network quality is a core component of his strategy at Cell C, and a 3G roaming agreement can buy him time to fix the problems with Cell C’s HSPA+ network.
However, Cell C, MTN and Vodacom do not want to confirm the discussions.
MTN South Africa said that it “does not respond to market speculation, rumour or any specific corporate activity”.
Vodacom and Cell C also did not want to comment on the issue.