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South Africa’s Cell C begins moving contract & broadband customers to Vodacom network

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 13 (Reuters) – South African mobile operator Cell C has begun moving its customers, starting with contract and broadband customers, on to rival Vodacom’s network as it prepares to decommission its towers as part of a roaming network strategy.

To stay competitive and strengthen its balance sheet as it battles to service its debt, Cell C has had to take a different approach than its large rivals who are all heavily invested in capital-intensive infrastructure. The plan is to collaborate on infrastructure but compete on products and services under the Cell C brand.

“This creates more flexibility and capacity to deliver the right quality of service to our current and future customers,” Cell C Chief Executive, Douglas Craigie Stevenson said.

Vodacom, South Africa’s second biggest telecom service provider by subscribers, will get a financial boost from the roaming revenue, that can in turn be used for further network rollout.

The transition of Cell C’s contract and broadband customers is due to be completed in the next two months, while the phased transition of prepaid customers will be confirmed in due course, the country’s fourth largest carrier said.

“The migration of contract and broadband customers arises from Cell C’s network roaming agreement with Vodacom,” the firm said in an emailed response.

Cell C, in which telecoms firm Blue Label owns a 45% stake, in November expanded its roaming agreement with MTN , the country’s biggest mobile network operator, enabling it to roam on MTN’s network in all areas of the country.

“We are moving closer to our vision that offers customers quality network access. Operationally the business is getting stronger, and a successful recapitalisation will secure the long-term sustainability of Cell C,” Craigie Stevenson said. (Reporting by Nqobile Dludla; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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