Cell C CEO, Alan Knott-Craig is hopeful that the group’s under-fire network will be “perfect” by the end of November.
Earlier this month (22 August 2013) Cell C announced that it would roll out an additional 100 sites in Johannesburg over the next three months at a cost of R200 million, in an effort to alleviate its strained network.
This is in addition to an existing 959 sites in Johannesburg, with the first 19 new sites expected to be on air by the end of August.
Cell C subscribers have voiced their displeasure over the quality of the operator’s network in recent months.
Knott-Craig told CNBC Africa this week that Cell C has increased its customer base by as much as 30% to 11.7 million,”in the last year and a bit”.
“The traffic has doubled, and that is the voice traffic. When you come to the data traffic, I think its quadrupled,” he said.
The company lead said that in Johannesburg in particular, “that’s where we have seen consumers saying look we are going to go for a better price”.
“In particular, the network in Johannesburg and Pretoria has been taking strain. In addition to the new sites, we have also embarked on a project to optimise close to 900 existing sites in Johannesburg and Pretoria to improve coverage and minimise interference on the network in high-density areas,” the CEO said in a press statement in August.
“We build about 120 (base stations) per month in the country, a large portion of which are built in Joburg.”
Knott-Craig admitted that the company needed to get its act together in terms of quality in Johannesburg – “and we will do that,” he said.
And when questioned when that will happen, Knott-Craig said: “End of November”.
He said that the company has put a very well qualified team in place, just for Johannesburg, where he said the amount of traffic growth defies belief for a country so close to saturation.
“Their brief is that everything has got to be perfect by the end of November,” Knott-Craig said.
When questioned whether R200 million was enough of an investment, Knott-Craig pointed out that it’s incremental, having recently received an injection of $350 million from its shareholder, Oger Telecoms.
By the end of 2013, Cell C said it would have 4,340 outdoor and indoor sites on air.
Knott-Craig said that the data prices in South Africa today were very low, while the voice prices were “very competitive”.