South African mobile operator Cell C has said it will invest ZAR 8 billion (US $667 million) in building an LTE network over the next three years as it seeks to improve its position in the country’s highly competitive market. Cell C is South Africa’s third-largest operator. The MNO, which has partnered with Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE as its primary network equipment suppliers, plans to deploy more than 4,000 LTE sites; however, it will continue to use 3G service in the country’s less populated areas. According to Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos, the operator wants to ensure that every LTE site is linked to its fiber backbone in order to provide customers with the highest level of service.
South Africa’s dynamic mobile market has one of the most robust mobile broadband infrastructures on the continent, despite its lack of LTE licensing due to a year’s delay in spectrum allocation. According to recent reports, all of South Africa’s operators have been making heavy investments in mobile networks. In addition to Cell C’s ZAR 8 billion deployment, Vodacom, which has the largest number of LTE sites (about 2,000 stations), is investing ZAR 8.5 billion (US $708 million) in its network. MTN currently has 1,000 LTE sites and it is investing ZAR 10 billion (US $833 million) to improve its grid. This amount almost doubles MTN’s capex in 2014. Telkom has around 1,300 LTE sites and a very extensive fiber network.