Cell C launches trial LTE sites

South African network operator Cell C has launched two LTE sites in Johannesburg, in the first phase of planned countrywide LTE trials taking place into the New Year.

Speaking to HumanIPO, Cell C Executive Head of Communications Karin Fourie confirmed that two LTE sites went live on Thursday in Sandton, Johannesburg. The sites represent the first phase in the rollout of a pilot scheme in preparation for a full-scale commercial switch on of LTE services.

Fourie advised that four metropolitan areas have been identified for further trials over the coming weeks and into the New Year, with LTE sites billed to go live in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The mobile operator is currently working on identifying customers who would be ideally positioned to participate in the trials, with Fourie noting that customers already using the requisite amount of data and located in the proximity of trial sites will be targeted to take part in the pilot scheme. The operator will approach customers who fit these criteria over the coming weeks.

Asked whether a commercial rollout date is on the horizon, Fourie revealed that there is no confirmed date as of yet, as the commercial launch will depend on a number of factors. The operator awaits the feedback to be gained from the pilot schemes.

Fourie outlined the plans for the LTE roll-out going forward. First, the operator is pushing to get the trial sites live across the four metro areas as soon as possible, after which it will focus on optimising the network for the best LTE service. Based on the results gathered from the pilots, a “small-scale” commercial network will be launched.

South Africa has seen a battle among its four mobile operators over recent months, as they vie to be the first to fully launch a functioning LTE network. However, significant challenges stand in the way of operating large-scale LTE services in the country, given the shortage of available spectrum.

Fourie confirmed that, for now, Cell-C is re-farming spectrum to launch the LTE network.

“We are using some spectrum that we already have allocated,” she said. “We have optimised spectrum”.

Posted in: Telecoms

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