Several Cell C customers have taken to the MyBroadband forum to complain that from the middle of December 2018, their fixed-LTE service stopped working.
The affected customers said that when they purchased a Cell C fixed-LTE package through local ISPs, the service worked as promised.
However, as of last month many users noticed that they were no longer receiving LTE coverage.
Following the complaints, a Cell C representative stated that certain Internet service providers which sell Cell C fixed-LTE packages had done so without consulting the network’s fixed-LTE coverage map.
“It has come to our attention that some ISPs that resell Cell C’s fixed-LTE service to their customers have sold this service outside of the Cell C fixed-LTE coverage areas,” said Cell C.
“Our contracts with these partners stipulate that ISPs are obliged to consult the Cell C fixed-LTE coverage map to ensure customers are within the coverage areas before selling this service to customers.”
Cell C added that its contracts with ISPs state that the service excludes Cell C’s national roaming agreement with MTN.
Roaming on MTN
Cell C finalised its roaming agreement with MTN in November 2018, following its announcement in May.
The agreement sees MTN providing 3G and 4G services to Cell C in areas where Cell C has chosen to purchase coverage rather than self-build.
Following the coverage outages described by fixed-LTE users, Axxess – which sells Cell C fixed-LTE packages – posted a notice on its website on 18 December 2018 which stated:
Cell C informed Internet Solutions that their roaming agreement with MTN will not apply to the Cell C services sold via Internet Solutions with immediate effect as of Friday last week, since this took place we have been receiving reports of clients experiencing no connectivity in outlying areas of the Cell C LTE network.
If you are affected please contact our support desk for further assistance.
ISPs selling Cell C fixed-LTE packages do so through Internet Solutions, which provides systems used to run the service.
ISPs did not use the map
MyBroadband contacted Cell C about the reported cut in coverage, and the company told MyBroadband that its fixed-LTE service has always excluded MTN roaming.
“This is clearly stipulated in the agreements we have with our ISP partners. Unfortunately, some ISPs did not consult Cell C’s fixed-LTE coverage map, which they are obliged to do, to ensure customers are within fixed-LTE coverage areas,” said Cell C.
It added that coverage areas for its fixed-LTE have not changed.
“The fixed-LTE product was designed to work in fixed-LTE coverage areas and ISP partners are required to consult the coverage map, which is updated regularly and provided to ISPs, before selling this product to customers. While the vast majority of our ISP partners follow the agreed process, a few unfortunately did not.”
The reason that certain users were able to use their fixed-LTE service outside of the coverage area before December was due to technical work being done during the rollout of the MTN roaming agreement.
“For a short period, during the last phase of the rollout and optimisation of MTN roaming on our network, LTE roaming was enabled for fixed-LTE products,” said Cell C.
“Some ISP customers would therefore have been able to use the product outside Cell C’s fixed-LTE coverage area, albeit for a short period of time. However, once the MTN roaming rollout was complete, the product was restored to its original design rules.”
Cell C said it is aware of “fewer than 50 complaints” in this regard, which showed that most ISP stuck to the rules.
“Affected customers who fall outside of Cell C’s fixed-LTE area and who were sold a fixed-LTE product should approach their service provider for a resolution,” it added.
This may not help all customers, however.
A MyBroadband reader stated that he knows many users who cancelled their Rain fixed-LTE packages to move to Cell C – and now they are left without coverage and are unable to take out new Rain packages due to its sales freeze.