South African cellco Vodacom is planning to deploy 555 new Long Term Evolution (LTE) base stations in the Gauteng province by the end of March 2015, TechCentral reports. The expansion project also includes the rollout of 2G/3G base transceiver stations (BTS), with 180 2G- and 240 3G-enabled BTS set to be deployed. Vodacom is aiming to increase its CAPEX to ZAR9 billion (USD836.5 million) in FY2014, up from ZAR7 billion reported in March 2013.
Neville van Niekerk, managing director of Vodacom’s Gauteng operation, said that Vodacom is facing major challenges in the province – which is the company’s biggest market, accounting for 60% of national traffic – in terms of expanding coverage and ensuring sufficient network capacity. The executive added: ‘If we can transfer data traffic onto LTE, we can free up capacity and spectrum to support better call quality on 2G and 3G.’ Although Niekerk said that the 5MHz of spectrum in the 1800MHz band, which was recently refarmed for LTE, is sufficient for the number of customers currently using the network, he revealed: ‘We have refarmed an additional 5MHz around Vodacom World in Midrand and in Montana (Pretoria) on a pilot basis… We’re looking at the impact of this and seeing if we can expand it little by little.’