A lack of readily available radio frequency spectrum is holding South Africa’s national broadband hopes at ransom, say Vodacom in an interview with Fin24.
Particularly, the South African government has been lagging behind in implementing its digital broadcast migration project – opening the pathways to faster frequencies like 4G.
“Government only started distributing a few thousand of its 5 million free digital TV set-top boxes for the poor late last year after missing several self-imposed deadlines since 2008.”
This has forced service providers like Vodacom and MTN to re-use their existing LTE spectrum, resulting in poorer service.
“Vodacom, in its results announcement, also hinted at the problems it has experienced in attempting to attain spectrum in different ways.”
In 2014, Vodacom embarked on a bid to buy Neotel for R7bn – a deal that was initially planned to boost the mobile operator’s fixed-line capabilities and attain Neotel’s spectrum.
However, following a lengthy regulatory process and opposition to the deal from Cell C and MTN, Vodacom in late 2015 decided to drop its bid for Neotel’s spectrum.
But the entire deal fell through earlier this year after Vodacom decided to walk away.
“The proposed acquisition of Neotel lapsed in March due to regulatory complexities and certain conditions not being fulfilled,” said Joosub on Monday.
“Our ambitions to increase the roll-out of fibre-based broadband services to homes and businesses remain. We will also continue to drive our customer experience and network advantage by investing heavily in resources and infrastructure.