Vodacom records 40% surge in data traffic and expects additional spectrum soon

Vodacom sees data traffic spike as people work from home and home entertainment surges.
Vodacom sees data traffic spike as people work from home and home entertainment surges.

Vodacom has recorded a 40% surge in data traffic since the start of the lockdown three weeks ago, the mobile operator said on Thursday.

Although data traffic was also increased by the fact that Vodacom, together with other mobile operators including MTN recently zero-rated a number of websites, including universities portals, the company said home entertainment and people working from home and drove most of the new demand.

"Following the implementation of lock down regulations in South Africa we noted a surge in data traffic on the network of up to 40% in comparison to pre-lock down implementation,"  said the company in a statement published on the Stock Exchange News Serviced

"We are expecting this trend to continue in the short to medium term as more customers work from home and people using technology to remain connected, educated and entertained," read Vodacom's statement.

Vodacom previously said when it was announcing of data price cuts last month that if demand for data surges because of the price cuts or any other reason, its network would become congested without additional spectrum. The only way to deal with a surge in demand without new spectrum allocation was to build more sites, an option that would push up the cost for the company, said CEO, Shameel Joosub at the time.

In Thursday's statement, Vodacom said its engineers are ensuring that the network can cater for additional demand but where necessary, it can offload more of Vodacom's capacity to the Rain network. Vodacom and Rain have a 4G roaming agreement which allows Vodacom customers to roam on the Rain network should the former face capacity issues.

Vodacom said it has also submitted a request for additional spectrum and it expects to receive feedback this week. The Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) and the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) invited network operators to apply for the emergency spectrum that government intends releasing during South Africa’s state of disaster.

Last week Thursday, ICASA said it had received 35 applications from the industry and it has made ICASA has made available several International Mobile Telecommunications spectrum bands that will be temporarily assigned for the entire period of the National State Disaster.

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