Cell C plans recovery road map, plans on becoming SA’s digital solutions provider, Newsline

JOHANNESBURG – Mobile network operator Cell C plans to become the country’s digital solutions provider, leveraging its telecoms platform in a scalable and cost-efficient manner as it tries to map a path to recovery.

This as Telkom on Friday overtook troubled Cell C to become South Africa’s third-largest operator.

Cell C has faced several headwinds and has embarked on a recapitalisation programme to improve the company’s capital structure and to tackle its R9 billion debt burden.

Andre Ittman, the company’s chief operations officer, said on yesterday said the company had to adapt to the consumption patterns that have resulted from remote working and the challenges that could be presented from a network access perspective.

“We will offer customers quality network access, champion innovative service offerings and drive digital inclusion by leveraging collaborations and partnerships,” said Ittman.

Cell C said the “new normal” economy required that it supported business continuity by ensuring service availability at all costs, so not to let their customers down. This included connectivity assistance to companies that have adopted work-from-home policies, by helping them to find alternative means for connectivity, systems and laptops.

Ittman said Cell SA also had to support their operational partners’ critical sustainability while also showing commitment to their vendors.

Cell C said collaboration with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa on the spectrum auction and benefits that could be realised as a result of that would also be key for the mobile network operator.

There were no significant changes to its plans and programmes as communicated prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Cell C said.

However, the current model of company-owned stores had been reviewed and would result in a reduction in the number of stores, mainly as a result of the decline in foot traffic and the number of transactions that were being replaced by increased digital or e-commerce volumes.

Cell C said it would continue with its planned strategy and operational model whereby it would become a significant wholesale buyer of network capacity and infrastructure services, replacing the current model of buy and build.

During the lockdown, Cell C said that it implemented various traffic load initiatives to support changed subscriber behaviour and improved quality of service.

It also said it re-looked its current working environment and staff operating model relative to a changed working from home model going forward. It also saw improved return on various digital platforms, including the Cell C website and app.

Peter Takaendesa, the head of equities at Mergence Investment Managers, said Cell C would have to choose their customers very carefully because they were not in a position of luxury.

“Cell C cannot raise the required capital by themselves and has had to change their strategy. Their situation is very complex, so they will have to be careful not to choose customers who cannot pay,” said Takaendesa.

Sabelo Dlamini, International Data Corporation’s Sub-Saharan Africa’s senior research and consulting manager, said mobile network operators needed to ensure that they provided an improved connection to the South African population.

“Had it not been for the temporary Covid-19 spectrum, they would not have been able to provide such good quality connection. Going forward, mobile network operators need to ensure that they make their data accessible to the average South African consumer as they remain quite high,” said Dlamini.

He added that mobile network operators needed to ensure that they came up with innovations that would assist with enterprise budding and developing enterprises.