Cell C secures additional spectrum

South Africa’s third cellular operator, Cell C, has had its application for additional spectrum in the 2100MHz band approved. The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) approved the application in January but the carrier only went public with the news yesterday, when Cell C’s head of regulatory affairs, Mothibi Ramusi confirmed the allocation of an additional 5MHz to complement its existing 2x10MHz of 3G spectrum.

The additional bandwidth places Cell C on a level playing field with larger competitors MTN and Vodacom and will, according to Ramusi, be used to boost HSPA+ services as part of the telco’s R5 billion expansion plans. Cell C launched its HSPA+ network in September last year and recently upgraded five of its high traffic radio network controllers in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. The upgrades were geared towards addressing problems with its 21Mbps HSPA+ Huawei modems; a software bug meant that the carrier’s new range of high-speed devices were interacting incorrectly with its base stations, causing low throughput and connection problems.

South Africa’s mobile telecoms market has been hotting up in recent months; state provider Telkom launched its 8ta mobile network late last year, sparking some fairly aggressive pricing strategies in a market that, for many years, was not known for its competitive structures.

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