Cell C in Talks to Share Towers as it Rolls Out New Network

Telecoms

Cell C said last week it would finalise a cellphone tower-sharing agreement in the next four weeks. Cell C is expected to sell part of its tower facilities to another company and then lease those facilities. Cellphone companies are looking at sharing towers to offset some of the capital and operational expenditure of infrastructure roll-outs.

Cell C CEO Lars Reichelt said the group was in discussions with two companies. One of those companies is said to be Eaton, the cellphone tower provider, which said last week that it would buy cellphone tower sites in SA as part of its strategy to encourage infrastructure sharing on the continent. Eaton's strategy is to own, build, manage and maintain telecoms towers for cellphone operators so they can reduce costs and focus on providing services to clients.

Cell C is spending R5bn to roll out its high-speed network to improve its service. It expects to have 34% of SA covered with its new network by year-end, and 67% by the middle of next year.

Reichelt said the network would be launched in phases. "We are running large-scale user tests in six cities and the results are very promising," he said. Virgin Mobile, a joint venture between Cell C and UK-based Virgin Group, would also have access to the new technology.