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Africa’s first HSPA+ 900 network now available

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South Africa’s third mobile operator, Cell C, has commercially launched Africa’s first HSPA+ 900 network.

The company officially switched on the high-speed network, dubbed 4GS ‚ 4 Great Speed and 4 Great Service ‚ in Port Elizabeth as part of its nationwide network rollout. Using world-leading software-defined radio technology, Port Elizabeth will for a short period be the only area in Africa to boast an HSPA+ 900 MHz network, offering data speeds capable of up to 21.6 Mbps.

Cell C CEO, Lars P. Reichelt announced in August that the company would launch its new network, city by city, until nationwide 4GS coverage was achieved. ‚To date, 1600 HSPA+ 900 sites have been deployed and we are currently running large scale user tests in 10 major cities. We’ll launch the network in each of those cities once we are happy with the network coverage and quality.

He said the first phase of the 4GS network rollout, expected to be completed by the end of 2010, will cover approximately 34% of the South African population. Reichelt explained that the network will be launched on a city-by-city basis and 2 more cities will come ‚on-air‚ in September. The company will continue to expand its network rollout and aims to cover 67% of the population by mid 2011.

‚What is significant about Cell C’s network, is that the HSPA+ release 7 network is IP across all network elements. This is a first for Africa, and will be rolled out countrywide and not only in pockets. The same Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology will be used across our entire network. It will be HSPA+ all the way from day one. The combination of R7 all IP networking along with the SDR technology will offer our customers a low latency, high capacity network that can evolve quickly as new standards are released.

In addition, the lower frequency of 900 MHz compared to 2100 MHz provides for much deeper and wider coverage with better penetration for indoor users. The result is fewer base stations to cover an area and enhanced in-door coverage.

Reichelt also announced that the company is launching two prepaid data products to ensure customers get the best deals right away. Available at all Cell C stores in Port Elizabeth, the data promotion offers customers the following:

24GBpackage· 7.2 Mbps USB speed stick · SIM card· 2GB of data per month x 12 monthsR1 499

60GBpackage· 21.6Mbps USB speed stick · SIM card· 5GB of data per month x 12 monthsR2 999

24GB data bundle· SIM card· 2GB of data per month x 12 monthsR999

60GB data bundle· SIM card· 5GB of data per month x 12 monthsR1 999

Reichelt said that the promotion will be extended to other cities when the network is launched in those areas to ensure everbody is able to benefit from this great offer.

He added that additional customer service support will be available at Cell C outlets and a specialized technical helpdesk has been set up to provide customers with expert advice. Customers who need assistance when installing their USB Speed Sticks can phone Cell C’s customer service centre on 140 (from a Cell C phone) or 084 140 (from any other phone) and they will be routed to the technical helpdesk.

In August the company also revealed a new corporate brand identity and launched a customer-centric marketing campaign fronted by comedian Trevor Noah. Reichelt said the Tell Trevor campaign that aims to encourage debate by inviting customers to join Cell C on its journey of change has been a great success.

He said the campaign supports the company’s vision of understanding the way of life of its customers better than anybody else and tailoring solutions around them to enhance lifestyles and improve livelihoods.

The campaign, which was launched four weeks ago, has already resulted in more than 30 000 posts. ‚We have provided customers with a platform to raise their views ‚ good or bad ‚ and the number of web posts and SMS’s we’ve received thus far reflects consumers’ desire to be heard.

As part of its city launch, Cell C also donated a modem to the Ethembeni Enrichment Centre in Port Elizabeth to provide the school with faster internet connection. The school will also receive a monthly data bundle and an adaptor to allow multiple users connectivity at the same time.

Reichelt commended the school, which has for the past 12 years in a row obtained a 100% pass rate despite challenging circumstances, for their hard work and commitment to delivering exceptional standards in education.

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