Faster, more efficient 4G network

2013-03-01 00:00

THE cellular network provider Vodacom is trying to keep up with the increased drive to create more businesses in order to grow the economy, by providing a faster and more efficient 4G network.

According to Richard Boorman, the executive head of media relations at Vodacom, the move was partly motivated by the increasing hunger for data applications experienced today, which meant that that the world was getting more connected. A technology to enhance all areas of business was therefore needed. In addition, Vodacom has also embarked on a drive to take 3G to rural areas.

“Our long-term plan is to provide good data services everywhere,” said Albert Breed, Vodacom’s managing executive of operations in KwaZulu-Natal. Another plan was in the pipelines for rural schools to get access to these various technologies.

However, the company was struggling to get approval from various councils in rural areas to build mast sites in regions such as the Msunduzi Municipality.

The plans to build such sites have been hindered by environmental concerns and the need to bring in other players in order to create a winning formula.

Boorman explained that the company would not downplay the health or environmental issues, but added that radio frequencies were up to 1 000 more times powerful than base stations. “There is only more EMF [energy electromagnetic field] exposure on a handset, but you can’t prove that it causes harm. After 20 years of studies the evidence is still not conclusive,” he said.

Breed said the environmental and health issues were a difficult topic and the company may struggle to get through some procedural processes. However, as soon as approval is certain, the company would build eight bases in Pietermaritzburg.

Each base would cost the company about R1 million to build. Another problem facing Vodacom was the high level of copper theft.

Breed would not get into details for reasons of competition, but highlighted that copper should be treated as precious metal in order to have a different set of regulations for companies that use the product.

“The level of vandalism is huge and we have some systems in place to stop it. Some sites have pepper spray systems, but the trick is to find the people who are doing it. The industry is usually hit by people who know the value of it,” he said.

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