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Cell C gets on Vodacom network

Cell C has announced that it has concluded the renegotiation of its roaming agreement with Vodacom, which includes access to 3G services on the Vodacom network.

“This agreement allows Cell C to provide a seamless experience to our customers, even those in outlying areas where we have limited coverage. Cell C customers in those areas will now also have access to Internet technologies on Vodacom’s 3G network,” says Cell C CEO Jose Dos Santos.

Alongside the investment in its own network, Cell C is using this agreement to provide the best possible experience for its customers and gives Cell C customers access to the most extensive network in the country.

With over R4 billion in investments over the 2014 and 2015 financial years for increased coverage and capacity, we felt that our next step was to bolster those areas where we have limited coverage and this agreement helps us do that,” says Dos Santos.

He says the new agreement is in line with Cell C’s continuous efforts to provide customers with the best possible user experience. “Our focus remains on providing customers with a great experience and we are pleased that our efforts have paid dividends.

The newly negotiated agreement with Vodacom will not affect Cell C’s planned investment in its LTE offering, which is currently under rollout across the country. “Our three-year, R8 billion agreement with Huawei and ZTE will continue apace as we prepare to launch a commercial LTE service later in the year,” says Dos Santos.

The new roaming agreement is effective 1 June 2015 and customers will soon be able to experience an improved service in roaming areas. The switch-on is expected to be completed within the next few weeks.

Timelines and areas where 3G roaming will be switched on will be available on Cell C’s website later this week.

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Getting London wired

Ruckus Wireless has been selected by Telefónica UK, which operates the O2 brand, to supply high-capacity small cell products for high-speed wireless services being deployed throughout London.

Already deployed throughout the busiest, iconic areas in central London, such as Trafalgar Square, Parliament Square, Leicester Square, Regent Street and Oxford Street, Ruckus SmartCell 8800s have initially been deployed to provide free, fast and reliable Wi-Fi to anyone.

Within a single, low-profile design, the SmartCell 8800 is the first carrier-grade, modular multi-radio system to integrate patented adaptive antenna array technology supporting multiple licensed and unlicensed radio technologies including: high-speed dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, small cell 3G/4G radios and 5GHz wireless backhaul. This gives Telefónica UK the flexibility to easily and economically offer high-speed Wi-Fi and cellular services in specific locations when needed.

‚”For O2, it’s all about us providing customers with fast and reliable connectivity where they need it,‚” said Derek McManus, chief operating officer for Telef√≥nica UK. ‚”Our vision is for Wi-Fi to be simply another access layer to our mobile core. Customers don’t really care about the underlying technology: they care about getting connected, fast and reliably. The introduction of small cells helps us to support these requirements and completely complements our mobile strategy by letting us push capacity closer to users in locations where it makes the most sense.‚”

‚”In telecoms there is now a mad race to the lamppost, and the first one there wins,‚” said Selina Lo, president and CEO of Ruckus Wireless. ‚”A big barrier in small cell deployment is simply securing the physical locations with the requisite power and backhaul to support small cells. Once physical assets secured, it becomes important for operators to exploit them with as much technology as they can. This means multi-function, carrier-grade products that are simple deploy, unobtrusive and massively scalable. SmartCell is one of those products and O2 is one of those operators taking a lead in this race.‚”

After extensive evaluations of wireless suppliers, Telef√≥nica UK selected Ruckus and its SmartCell system. ‚”It all really boiled down to who had the best Wi-Fi for carriers and the most forward-thinking strategy to integrate Wi-Fi within existing and future cellular infrastructure,‚” said McManus.

‚”Such partnerships prove that industry players are starting to see the benefits Wi-Fi is bringing to their services,‚” adds Michael Fletcher sales director for Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa. ‚”We are likely to continue to see more industry players embracing this transformation globally, and hopefully locally as well as operators look for solutions to cater for their growing customer base.‚”

Beating the Backhaul Dilemma

‚”A major challenge with small cell deployments is how to reliably backhaul traffic from potentially thousands of small cell nodes without breaking the bank,‚” said Robert Joyce, chief radio engineer at Telef√≥nica UK.‚”

Telefónica UK effectively eliminates this problem by meshing traffic over highly reliable 5GHz Wi-Fi mesh links between nodes using Ruckus Smart Mesh technology. Smart Mesh uses advanced self-organising network (SON) principles with Ruckus-patented adaptive antenna arrays (BeamFlex) and predictive channel management techniques (ChannelFly). Combined these technologies create highly resilient, high-speed Wi-Fi mesh backbone links between nodes that automatically adapt to changes in environmental conditions.

Thought by many to not be possible, Smart Mesh has demonstrated to deliver reliable backhaul for licensed cellular and unlicensed Wi-Fi traffic in both line of sight and non-line of site environments.

‚”Ruckus Smart Mesh technology is proving to offer a cost-effective, reliable and flexible alternative to conventional approaches,‚” said Joyce. ‚”With Smart Mesh, we are running fiber to just one of every five nodes. This has proven to be a huge benefit in reducing capital and operational expense with the added bonus of reducing the time to market.‚”

Big Improvements with Small Cells

Small cells represent a new architectural approach for injecting much needed capacity into service provider networks. Small cells are miniature base stations that combine licensed and unlicensed radio technology with wireless backhaul to deliver lower powered wireless signals much closer to mobile users. This results in better signal coverage, improved voice quality and higher data performance.

Small cells enable operators to provide a premium quality mobile signal where it was never previously economic, such as indoor environments and remote outdoor locations. They also enable operators to meet the burgeoning demand for mobile data, by multiplying the data capacity of the macro network at a fraction of the cost.

With the Ruckus SmartCell system, mobile operators gain a capacity boost from LTE small cells, cutting costs and complexity by co-locating and combining them with Wi-Fi access points, sharing site-lease agreements and backhaul. The integration of Wi-Fi and LTE small cells within the cellular core also helps operators optimize network utilization across the radio access network, providing a further improvement in performance, and creating a seamless experience for subscribers.

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Pre-paid data at 15c/MB

Cell C has announced the extension of its existing 15c/MB postpaid and prepaid data promotions until the end of October.

The company has also lowered the price of its entry-level 500MB data offer from R49 to R45 and while stocks last, this offer also includes a free 7.2Mbps speedstick.

‚”What our customers want is affordable, high quality data services. Our promotional data packages offer customers data at very competitive in- and out-of-bundle rates. Our in-bundle rate remains at the bottom 5 cents per MB*, and we have reduced our out of bundle rate from 39 cents to a much more competitive 15 cents per MB,‚” says Cell C CEO Alan Knott-Craig.

Knott-Craig says customers can expect more exciting announcements in the coming weeks.

Table of promotional pricing (prices include VAT):

Postpaid

Standard rate

Promotion

OOB rate

500MB + 7.2Mbps speedstick

R129 p/m

R45 p/m

15c/MB

2GB SIM only

R279 p/m

R99 p/m

15c/MB

2GB + 7.2Mbps speedstick

R299 p/m

R119 p/m

15c/MB

Promotional postpaid offers are all on 24- month contracts only

Prepaid

Standard rate

Promotion

OOB rate

24GB SIM only or 24GB SmartData Voucher

R1 999 once-off

R1 299 once-off

15c/MB

24GB + 21.6Mbps speedstick

R2 999 once-off

R1 999 once-off

15c/MB

The data on promotional prepaid offers are valid for 12 months (2GB every 30 days X 12)

* (applies to 2GB and 24GB)

*

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