Cell C will not launch a commercial LTE network until it receives a response from the government as to CEO Alan Knott-Craig Sr.’s call for a unified national mobile network.
HumanIPO recently reported Knott-Craig Sr.’s speech at the AfricaCom conference in Cape Town, when the telecoms veteran outlined his vision for an “umbrella network” for South African mobile telephony, calling upon the regulator to draw together all the available spectrum in the country and create a single unified network.
The four active mobile operators in South Africa would be drawn under this umbrella network, according to Knott-Craig’s concept, and would be subjected to rates standardised by the Regulator.
This unified network, argues Knott-Craig, would push costs down for end-consumers to affordable levels – South Africa currently being one of the most expensive countries for mobile communications. Meanwhile, operators would move their battle to the retail arena, as such competition would remain active.
Having issued this call to the regulator and the government, Cell C Executive Head of Communications Karin Fourie today told HumanIPO that the mobile operator would not launch a full-scale commercial LTE network before it receives an official response to Knott-Craig’s proposal.
Fourie explained that the umbrella network is “the only way we can know there will be broadband for all users across South Africa”, given that it would make spectrum available to all of the operators and regulate prices at a level deemed nationally acceptable.
As such Cell C is demanding an official response to the proposal from the Government, which is targeting 100 percent broadband penetration across South Africa as part of its Vision 2020 and hence should be responsive to action plans to achieve this target.
While no official government response has so far been forthcoming, Fourie said: “We believe the government supports the idea.”