South Africa’s newest cellular operator Cell C has revealed that it signed up its two millionth customer on 1 August, five months ahead of schedule. In order to keep up with the greater than expected demand, Cell C has upped its network roll out plans from 1,900 live base stations to 2,350 by 2005. At present the company operates around 1,100 base stations, which between them carry 50% of the company’s traffic; the remainder is catered for by a 15-year domestic roaming agreement with Vodacom.
Cell C launched services in November 2001 having secured a licence from the regulatory body ICASA earlier in the year. The company is wholly owned by 3C Telecommunications, which itself is 60% owned by Oger Telecom South Africa (a division of Saudi Oger) and 40% by CellSaf, a consortium of 30 black empowerment companies and trusts. More than 85% of Cell C’s staff are from disadvantaged backgrounds. The company’s goal is to have a 25% market share by 2008, which at current estimates would represent around 4.75 million subscribers. At August 2003 Cell C estimated its two million customers gave it a 10% share of the market.