Gautrain – cellphone networks go underground

By Stuart Lowman

Gautrain_OR_TamboCellphone blackouts at underground Gautrain stations is set to become a thing of the past after mobile network’s Vodacom and MTN announced plans to extend coverage to these areas.

Vodacom, which launched their service on Tuesday, said the solution to ensure that stations no longer have coverage dead zones took them three months, as they partnered with the Department of Roads and Transport, the Gautrain Management Agency, Bombela Concession Company and the Strategic Partners Group.

The Vodacom cellphone signal, though, does not extend to tunnels in the Gautrain system yet. But Vodacom says that it plans to roll out tunnel coverage in the second phase of the signal deployment.

“This is the first phase of the process. Our next task is to work on ensuring that we have a seamless service throughout the Gautrain route. That means not dropping a call when you go into a tunnel. We’re currently in talks with our partners to roll this out,” said Andries Delport, Vodacom’s Chief Technology Officer.

MTN said it plans to roll out coverage at three of the Gautrain stations in Johannesburg: Sandton, Rosebank and Park Station. This service will officially launch 3 July and the group plans to expand its Gautrain network.