Telkom to switch from MTN to Vodacom for roaming

Telkom mobile users will in future roam on Vodacom’s network, not MTN’s, after the two cellular operators concluded a new, multibillion-rand roaming deal on Wednesday. The migration will begin in December, with full switchover planned by mid-2019.

Telkom customers will now be able to roam on Vodacom’s 4G network, whereas the agreement with MTN was restricted to the slower 2G and 3G technologies only. The agreement extends to facilities leasing, too, meaning that Telkom can build infrastructure on Vodacom towers.

The deal with Vodacom comes just months after Cell C announced it would terminate its 2G and 3G roaming deal with Vodacom in favour of a broader roaming agreement with MTN that includes 4G/LTE. Cell C’s deal with Vodacom will not be renewed when it expires in 2020, while its roaming arrangement with MTN is expected to come into effect by the end of 2018.

Telkom spokeswoman Noma Faku confirmed to TechCentral that the agreement with Vodacom includes seamless handover, meaning a call won’t drop if it is passed by a Telkom tower to a Vodacom tower.

She said, too, that there will be no geographic restrictions as there are in the deal between Cell C and MTN. This means that even if a Telkom subscriber is in Johannesburg, and has Telkom signal, they can still choose to roam onto Vodacom’s network if they prefer.

The agreement between Cell C and MTN sees South Africa’s third mobile operator getting access to both MTN’s 3G and 4G services in areas where it has chosen to purchase coverage rather than self-build, mainly outside of the main metropolitan areas.

The deal includes seamless handover for customers, which means that if someone is on a call that happens to switch from a Cell C tower to a MTN tower, it won’t be dropped.

‘Comprehensive assessment’

“Cell C completed a comprehensive assessment of the wholesale offerings available in the market and based on MTN’s significant network investment in recent times, we concluded that MTN offered the best solution for our business going forward,” said CEO Jose Dos Santos.

“This deal will complement Cell C’s network offering and, with the introduction of roaming 4G services, our customers in those areas will benefit significantly.”

The long-term roaming agreement with MTN is a multibillion-rand deal, though it hasn’t attached a specific value to the transaction.  — © 2018 NewsCentral Media