Vodacom’s R1.7-billion plan with WBS
Vodacom said its facilities leasing, services, and roaming agreement with Wireless Business Solutions (WBS) will result in R1.74 billion in future capital expenditure for the company. WBS chairman Paul Harris said in 2016 that WBS had signed a lease agreement with Vodacom to fast-track its network roll-out. The agreement will see WBS lease aspects of Vodacom’s sites and facilities, while Vodacom will benefit from WBS’s LTE-Advanced network through a non-exclusive roaming agreement.
“The new LTE-A network will have significant capacity, which enables us to allow other networks to roam on it,” said Harris. In an interview on 15 May, Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub said they are using the WBS LTE-A network. Vodacom has now revealed it has budgeted R1.74 billion for future capital expenditure linked to the agreement with WBS, adding that the majority of the expenditure is non-current.
Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy said the increased capex from the WBS partnership will be used to conduct, among other tasks, antenna swaps.
Deal facing challenges from MTN and Cell C
The facilities leasing and roaming agreement between Vodacom and WBS, however, is facing regulatory challenges from MTN and Cell C. MTN and Cell C have raised complaints with ICASA and the Competition Commission. The Competition Commission will now determine whether the roaming arrangement between Vodacom and WBS is a notifiable merger under the Competition Act.
ICASA is conducting an enquiry to determine whether the transaction contravenes the requirements of the Electronic Communications Act.