Gauteng MEC for Roads and Transport, Ismail Vadi, recently met with representatives of Vodacom, MTN, Cell C and Telkom 8ta, including officials from the Gautrain Management Agency and the Bombela Concession Company, to discuss the urgent necessity to introduce mobile communications services (voice and data) on the Gautrain rapid rail system.
Vadi is pleased to inform Gautrain passengers, foreign tourists and the public at large that an agreement has been reached with all the mobile operators that full mobile communications services should be made available to Gautrain commuters by July 2014.
He added that the parties have agreed to a joint technical implementation plan. This plan will be implemented in three phases. Phase one will be to ensure that voice (cell phone) communications services are provided at all underground stations by June 2013. Phase two will allow for cell phone coverage in the 15 km tunnel section of the Gautrain system, which is expected to be completed by December 2013. Phase three will have top quality voice connectivity throughout the 80 km rail system of Gautrain, which all parties will attempt to have completed by July 2014.
Vadi said that he is “truly encouraged by this new partnership with mobile operators which will see commuters enjoying much needed communications services whilst travelling on the Gautrain”.
This commercial agreement must be concluded within the existing regulatory framework without compromising the operational and commercial interests of each of the parties to the agreement said Vadi.
He added that in the end the agreement must serve the public good as mobile connectivity is essential, particularly during service interruptions and delays. This will enable commuters to inform colleagues, friends or family members of the delay and ask them to postpone meetings, flights or engagements. Vadi indicated that he was sensitive to the fact that mobile operators must adhere to their license conditions by ensuring that they avail communications services to their subscribers, particularly emergency calls.