Vodacom Tanzania - History, Network, Ownership and More

Vodacom Tanzania – History, Network, Ownership and More

Vodacom Tanzania Limited is among the leading mobile network companies in Tanzania. By December 2020, the company had more than 15.6 million subscribers and was among the largest mobile networks for telecommunications in Tanzania. In early 2007, Vodacom Tanzania made 3G High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA)  available in Dar es Salaam to become the second cellular network company in Africa to follow Vodacom.

Location Vodacom Tanzania Head Office

The corporate headquarters of Vodacom Tanzania are on the 15th Floor of Vodacom Towers located at 23 Ursino Estate, alongside Old Bagamoyo Road, in Tanzania’s financial capital, Dar es Salaam,. In geographical terms, the coordinates of the firm’s head office are 06°46’41.0″S (Latitude:-6.778056), 39°15’37.0″E (Longitude:39.260278).

Overview

By late 1999, the company was formed as a subsidiary of Vodacom from South Africa. In the beginning, Vodacom Tanzania operated as a joint venture with the Vodacom Group, having about 65 %, and the balance of 35 % in the hands of Tanzanian shareholders including Mirambo Holdings.

In August 2000, the company’s GSM infrastructure was completed before it went live on 14 August 2000. Commercial operations for Vodacom Tanzania were announced officially on 15 August 2000. The company became the biggest mobile operator in Tanzania in just a year after its launch including remaining the biggest mobile telecom network company in Tanzania to date.

The company actively has roaming agreements with various mobile network service providers around the world including, Vodafone Limited United Kingdom, T-Mobile USA, and Vodafone India.

Vodacom Tanzania History

Getting a License

Vodacom Group got a GSM cellular network provider license in December 1999 to operate in Tanzania thereafter becoming Vodacom Tanzania Limited, a subsidiary company. The conglomerate also operates in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, and Kenya as Safaricom. By the time Vodacom came to Tanzania, Tritel was the only GSM 900 MHz mobile operator on the Tanzanian mainland with around 20,000 active subscribers well as the other service provider was operating particularly on Zanzibar Island.

MIC Tanzania Limited (tiGO), a provider of analogue cellular network also existed with about 50,000 active subscribers. This was also known as Mobitel at the beginning of its operation in the country during late 1993. Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited, TTCL a government-owned provider of fixed-line telecommunications also existed. Vodacom Tanzania became the third network service provider to get an operating license in the country well as becoming the biggest mobile telecommunications service provider in Tanzania just a year after its launch.

Telecommunications Company Limited, TTCL Customer Care Center
Telecommunications Company Limited, TTCL Customer Care Center

Vodacom Tanzania Partnership

Vodacom Tanzania got a license in Tanzania whose local partners included Caspian Construction holding 16% and Planetel Communications holding 36%.  Afterward, Planetel reduced its shares to 16%, and Caspian got more to make 19%.

Rostam Aziz, a businessman and President Jakaya Kikwete’s close supporter represented Caspian during negotiations with Vodacom Tanzania. By the time of licensing Vodacom in the country, these men didn’t have the same power as they got later.

Vodacom Tanzania Network

Vodacom Tanzania domestically works on two frequencies GSM 900 MHz and 1800 MHz. Siemens from South Africa fixed the network in 2000. There were claims about the the1800 and 900 GSM networks being too hi-tech for Africa’s mobile telecoms, with its IN platform including various maintenance and management platforms.

Towards the end of 2006, Vodacom Tanzania installed equipment for The VectaStar wireless transmission including commercial operation of the backhaul network the same year. The network coverage includes Moshi, Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, and Arusha, in the 10.5 GHz spectrum band utilising an appropriate license. Vodacom Tanzania has top-notch customer service that relies on IVR technology. For that, Vodacom customers receive bilingual services in English and Swahili language.

Roaming Service

By December 2020, the number of telecom subscribers was 51 million, of these 30.6% who make up 15.6 million subscribed to Vodacom with the leading market share.

Vodacom Tanzania has most operations in the mainland as well as acting as the Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO) for ZanTel on the mainland. ZanTel has an independent network in Zanzibar, as well as having a deal with Vodacom Tanzania for the utilization of the latter’s mainland facilities, and to consequently  offer countrywide roaming.

Across East Africa, Vodacom has footprints in Tanzania as well as roaming agreements with various East African carriers, including Safaricom Kenya and MTN Uganda. On 2 February 2007, an East African free-roaming zone was formed between Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya. Just like “One Network”, East Africa and the world’s first borderless network that Celtel launched on 27 September 2006.

A free-roaming zone allows subscribers to call without incurring charges between member countries, thus eliminating roaming costs, calling as well as sending SMS at the home rate plus receiving free incoming phone calls and SMS. It also allows them to purchase airtime using their own vouchers while traveling away from their home country.

By 2008, prepaid customers of Vodacom Tanzania accessed restricted roaming privileges apart from roaming in Uganda and Kenya. Although all post-paid customers access international roaming, activation is required through customer service.

After provision, costs for calls and SMS made as well as received during international roaming go to the customer’s post-paid monthly balance back in Tanzania. The company offers international roaming because of collaborations with 288 online networks in 140 countries well as territories including Kerala in India. The latest roaming destinations are Germany and China. Vodacom prepaid customers in Germany can roam through Vodafone D2.

3G Upgrading

Part of rolling out a $126 million broadband technology as well as a $1.3 million capital expenditure project included 3G technology to expand the Vodacom network in Tanzania by December 2006. Siemens Communications from South Africa was again given the contract by Vodacom Tanzania to deliver and roll out the full 3G network together with High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) technology.

This marked the second 3G network set up in Southern Africa by Siemens and is arguably the first true high speed mobile broadband connection accessible in Tanzania. Siemens Communications had already set up the 3G network in South Africa for Vodacom.

Despite the 3G technology being officially available by the beginning of 2007, the technology including necessary frequency 3G services existed since the beginning of December 2006 in a trial phase to develop the network. The company hoped to stretch out the 3G capabilities to more parts of Tanzania in the wake of the successful evaluation of the initial 3G launch. Vodacom Tanzania pioneered this technology in East Africa and with an assumption that 3G HSDPA offers a significant competitive edge to clients.

Plans for WiMAX

Vodacom Tanzania plans to join other network operators in the country to roll out WiMAX technology. The others operators include ZanTel, TTCL, and tiGO. By 28 September 2007, there was no indication that Celtel Tanzania planned to roll out WiMAX.

Quick summary of WiMAX technology
Quick summary of WiMAX technology

Plans for Vodacom Tanzania’s WiMAX rollout were accompanied by 3.5 GHz regulator guaranteed spectrum. The guaranteed spectrum is for use to target data transfer in the corporate sector within the country’s main cities.

Today, Vodacom Tanzania uses VectaStar equipment from Cambridge Broadband. This equipment has the potential to transmit signals from both data and mobile networks such as WiMAX, 3G, and GSM, sites when deployed. In fact, Cambridge Broadband Limited fixed the equipment according to the contract for radio transmission equipment. On 5 September 2006, Vodacom Tanzania gave the biggest contract for radio transmission equipment to Cambridge Broadband Limited.

Ownership of Vodacom Tanzania

Vodacom Tanzania shares are traded in the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange. By March 2020, the share ownership in the company stock was as portrayed in the table below; afterward Vodacom Group Limited purchased 26.25% of shares formerly owned by Mirambo Limited.

Other Telecommunication Firms in Tanzania

Below is a table illustrating the market share between the active mobile service providers in Tanzania by 31 December 2020.

Shareholding

By August 2017, Vodacom Tanzania’s shares were listed on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange, trading with the label VODA.

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