Cell C – The MVNO King

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Taking off in 2001, with much fun-fare and excitement, some Arab Money, Cell C was the alternative that everyone wanted – A challenger to the established MTN and Vodacom. More competition means cheaper mobile data and airtime, we all thought. Disrupt them, and challenge the status quo of high data prices and high airtime bills.

Cell C's new logo.
Cell C’s new logo. Source: Cellc.co.za

It worked hard to compete, coming up with competitive pricing to try and force MTN and Vodacom to lower their prepaid pricing. But Cell C was not competitive enough to cause a major shift in the market.

Around 2020 the fourth entrant to the cellular network operator market passed Cell C’s subscriber numbers, relegating it to the number four spot in the market.

Cell C has now changed tactics by updating its strategy to focus on becoming a cellular network-enabled digital services business. In 2019 Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson announced this new shift in strategic focus.

They stopped building network towers and announced that they were shutting down cell tower stations in the Eastern Cape, Free State, and Northern Cape. North-West, Limpopo, Western Cape, Kwa-Zulu-Natal and Mpumalanga will be up next.

Now, if this doesn’t signal a move away from the other three telcos’ strategies, with their heavy infrastructure investments, and a move towards soft products and services then nothing will make it clearer.

How did the Cell C mobile network start?

At the beginning of its journey in 2001 Cell C had no physical cell tower infrastructure so its customers had to roam on the MTN network. It was no big deal, though, as MTN had an extensive cell tower infrastructure at that time.

As a telecommunications business Cell C had to start building and investing in its own network telecommunications infrastructure in order to compete effectively. As such they invested in their own network, building it up and grabbing customers from their competitors.

Even with all these investments, it seemed like Cell C was lagging behind, and its CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson confirmed this in a 2019 press junket.

It seems it always had network and business issues, but never had customer service issues. This is a shame because over 13 million subscribers get good service from the customer centre but are let down by network issues.

Cell C’s new strategy

Introduced in 2019 Cell C’s latest strategy aims to reduce its investment in network infrastructure and become a wholesale capacity aggregator and buyer from those who have invested in network infrastructure. This also means an acceleration towards being a digital services provider instead of a complete mobile network provider with its own cell towers.

Cell C is now focusing on being a digital lifestyle brand, and this can be seen with its GetMore app. We await more apps and services from them.

Cell C’s products and services

Cell C provides its customers with the services below:

  • CFibre – almost sold as if it’s a separate business entity, Cell C sells fibre services over existing physical fibre connections to its end consumers.
  • Home Wi-Fi through their service: Home Connecta
  • Voice and data contracts, as well as prepaid airtime
  • MVNO’s – mobile virtual network operator

Cell C Business offers its customers

  • WASP services, Mobile data, and voice, Telecom expense management, and Business Fibre, amongst others
  • They also have a special business section that caters to the public sector which they call the Business Public Sales Channels

Those MVNO deals

Cell C customers often roam on MTN’s network, using their infrastructure to fulfill their network coverage needs and connectivity requirements. With Cell C defocusing on investments in base network infrastructure it is using MTN’s network for its infrastructure while it focuses on other growth strategies that may involve being an MVNO enabler.

By being an MVNO a company is able to diversify its revenues, retain customers by having them use more of its services, grow the business, and use the mobile network as a reward and loyalty value-add to the business.

Now, by Cell C shifting its strategy and moving away from spending on building infrastructure to being a digital services company, it is able to move into this enabler space, investing all that capital it freed up and putting it into building its MVNO-enabler platform.

Cell C’s sponsorship of The Sharks

The telco has one major sponsorship that gives it national visibility within a high LSM market of rugby. Cell C is the title sponsor of the Durban-based Sharks rugby club. This gives them the right to get its name mentioned next to the Sharks brand and have its logo front and center on its kit.

The Sharks will be sponsorship was renewed in January 2020 with Cell C, and is due to run for three years.

Cell C youth development

As long as we can all remember Cell C had its corporate citizenship initiative that aimed to empower women by launching its Cell C: Take a Girl Child to Work Day program.

And in 2022 the program has now been updated to the Cell C Youth Development Program.

Cell C 2022 Youth Development Program.

Cell C’s most important contact details

Cell C Customer care

Cell C Customers: 135
If calling from a non-Cell C number: 084 135
Cell C Business: 084 194 4000
Cell C Direct/CFibre: 084 145

Cell C WhatsApp: 084 444 0040

Cell C Physical Address

Cell C Head Office
Waterfall Campus
Corner Pretoria Main Road & Maxwell Drive

Cell C Stores operating hours:

Monday – Fridays: 09:00-17:00
Saturdays: 09:00-13:00
Sundays: Closed, but Cell C shops at shopping malls mostly open at 9m till late
Public Holidays: Closed

Moemedi Segoje

1 Response

  1. Why is my network and cell number blocked? I can’t use the network at all. Why? This has never been a contract phone!!!

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