Cell C is migrating its contract and broadband customers to Vodacom, which means they can soon expect the same coverage and service levels as Vodacom subscribers.
At the same time, Cell C is building its own radio access network (RAN) on MTN’s infrastructure and is migrating its prepaid subscribers to MTN.
This subscriber migration forms part of Cell C’s network strategy to switch off its old radio access network and reduce its network investment spend and improve operational efficiency.
Cell C said its network strategy will enable it to provide network services to customers via roaming agreements with partner networks while still offering a full Cell C customer experience.
Cell C said it signed a network roaming agreement with best-of-breed infrastructure players – MTN and Vodacom – which are being implemented over three years.
Over the three years, Cell C will move its customers from its own network onto partner networks and decommission its own towers in the phased process.
Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson said their plan is to differentiate themselves by focusing on innovative products and services without owning expensive network infrastructure.
Cell C will therefore become South Africa’s largest wholesale buyer of network capacity and infrastructure services from Vodacom and MTN.
“The adoption of the network roaming model will promote more resourceful use of the telecommunications infrastructure capacity in the country, improve the overall network connectivity and provide Cell C customers with a better customer experience,” said Craigie Stevenson.
He added that this strategy will help Cell C with its turnaround process by creating “more flexibility and capacity to deliver the right quality of service to our current and future customers”.
Contract subscriber migration to Vodacom
Cell C started to migrate its contract and broadband subscribers to Vodacom in mid-December and expects the process to be completed in February.
Cell C subscribers who are part of this migration process have already received SMSes about the process.
The mobile operator asked subscribers to activate “Data Roaming” manually on their phone settings to ensure a smooth transition.
The good news for Cell C’s contract and broadband subscribers is they will receive the same network coverage and quality as Vodacom’s subscribers.
Cell C will, however, maintain its own IMSI and number ranges and control over its transmission and core networks.
It will also continue to differentiate itself from Vodacom through its own retail products and pricing.
In simple terms, consumers will be able to buy contract products from Cell C and be served through Vodacom’s network.
Prepaid subscribers moving to MTN
Cell C started to build a virtual radio access network (RAN) on MTN’s infrastructure on 1 January 2021. This is expected to be completed in three years.
Cell C will use all its current spectrum in the 900MHz, 1,800MHz and 2,100MHz bands for its virtual network.
During this period, Cell C will migrate its prepaid subscribers to its new virtual radio access network.
Cell C told MyBroadband the migration of prepaid subscribers will be a seamless transition that will happen in phases over a three-year period.
Cell C will have complete control over the coverage and network quality of its new virtual network.
In areas where Cell C’s virtual RAN does not have coverage, Cell C customers will continue to roam on MTN’s network.
MTN subscribers are also set to benefit from the agreement as Cell C has sold some roaming capacity to MTN on its virtual RAN’s spare capacity.
Cell C’s agreements with MTN and Vodacom explained
Cell C’s agreement with MTN and Vodacom significantly differ in scope and the experience which Cell C subscribers can expect.
With MTN the focus is on Cell C’s virtual RAN which will be used to service its prepaid subscribers.
With Vodacom, it is a simple roaming agreement where Cell C contract and broadband subscribers will use Vodacom’s network.
The table below provides a summary of the agreement between Cell C, MTN, and Vodacom.
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