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To improve its network, Vodacom is using a combination of network optimisation and the introduction of key features, which have been deployed across a large part of its 4G network, increasing data speeds and voice quality for users.
- Increased efficiency in spectrum use – 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (256QAM) transmits more data into the same amount of spectrum, thereby increasing spectral efficiency.
- 4G carrier aggregation (CA) – Enables customers to use more than one spectrum band at the same time to transmit data.
- New antennae and radios – To support Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) technology.
'We continue to expand the footprint of 4G carrier aggregation sites, but there are limits to how much of the network can be addressed, due to the spectrum constraints,' said Vodacom. In addition to this, MIMO offers improved data speeds using advanced signal processing techniques to send and receive multiple data streams across different data paths at the same time.
Vodacom have recently exceeded 80% of population coverage in South Africa, thanks to a sustained period of 4G growth.
Vodacom also has dedicated teams of engineers who analyse the network to proactively find faults and areas of poor performance. This is done by using a combination of network data obtained from performance statistics, drive testing, and crowd-sourced measurements. The intention is to ensure any and all issues are fixed before they become apparent to customers.
The introduction of Self-Optimising Network (SON) technology to automate tasks like tilting antennas and fine-tuning network parameter settings is another asset used by Vodacom. This has increased their engineers’ productivity and resulted in significant improvements in important customer experience KPIs such as the dropped call rate.
Vodacom has also prioritised its focus on network deployment in rural areas, which is carried out through site solutions that can be deployed in challenging terrain.
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