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Vodacom to invest R1,5 billion in network infrastructure in Gauteng, greater emphasis on customer experience

Melanie Forbes, Managing Executive for Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit for the Gauteng Region, has big ambitions to drive even better customer experience in the region.
With close to two decades of experience working in telecommunications industry, Forbes will also be placing particular emphasis on making a meaningful difference to the communities, ensuring that Vodacom remains the brand of choice in Gauteng and, ultimately, providing customers with greater value.
“Price alone doesn’t win customers. But a great network, responsive customer care and superior service experience will. We continuously look at ways of making the lives of customers easier and have embarked on a programme to reshape customer experience in all our stores and contact centres in Gauteng. In particular we are committed to making sure that queries raised via the call centre are dealt with quickly and efficiently,” said Forbes.
Mobile data usage in townships such as Soweto is accelerating rapidly and is running well-ahead of the average growth rate country wide. The data demand is driven by take up of Vodacom’s personalised offers such as Just for You, bundle strategy, and low-cost Vodacom branded devices.
In the 2016 financial year, the Vodacom Group will invest more than R8 billion in infrastructure, of which R1,5 billion is earmarked for Gauteng. Shane Hibbard, Managing Executive for Gauteng Operations, emphasised that in practical terms this will mean wider coverage, faster data, and even better call quality for the people of Gauteng.
“Through sustained investment, Vodacom has established the best network in Gauteng. We want to maintain this advantage by making sure that we connect everyone – whether they live in the cities, townships or in the rural areas. This financial year alone we will roll-out several hundred sites across the province as well as upgrade current sites and increase capacity. We need to do this to meet exceptionally high demand, specifically for data,” said Hibbard.
Hibbard noted that Soweto is already supported by 163 3G capable base stations of which 150 or 93% are equipped with LTE capability. In the past 12 months alone, LTE was deployed in Protea Gardens, Doornkop and Dobsonville Gardens. In this financial year, Vodacom has committed circa R80 million to ramping up its network in Soweto in support of a general push into more effective broadband services. Emphasis is being placed on the re- farming of frequency spectrum (from 2G services in the 1800 MHz band to LTE) to enable increased capacity for true broadband services in Soweto.
“As a global company with local roots, Vodacom will continue to find ways of delivering societal value by making a meaningful difference in communities through the work of the Vodacom Foundation. One of the flagship programmes that reflect Vodacom Foundation’s good work in communities is the education portal called Vodacom e-school, which serves as a learning platform with Internet access to education content for Grade 4 to 12 school learners.
“Through Vodacom’s e-school, learners who are Vodacom subscribers are now able to access content, which is curriculum aligned, on their mobile device across all major subjects, free of charge, as Vodacom has zero rated browsing on the portal for its customers,” said Forbes.

In Soweto, the Vodacom Foundation is involved in a number of projects. These include:

• The African Children’s Feeding Scheme (ACFS) Project, where we provide food to the malnourished, HIV/AIDS and orphaned school children. Through the assistance from Vodacom Foundation, ACFS is able to assist more than 700 children daily.
• The Orlando Children’s Home, which caters for children that are lost, abandoned, orphans, neglected abused and those infected and affected by the HIV/AIDS virus. In other words, all children considered to be in need of care.
• A partnership with the Orlando Pirates Football Club to help integrate ICT into the Orlando Pirates Learning Centre. Here Vodacom provides Internet access for learners and teachers living in communities in and around Soweto.

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