Cell C has scooped the inaugural AfricaCom Award 2008 for the Best Network Quality Initiative, granted to the operator that implements an innovative and cost-effective initiative which improves coverage extensively while improving quality of service.
"It was actually the tremendous success of our Woza Weekend campaign which drove this project," explains Steve Boiles, acting chief technical officer at Cell C. "Demand for this product was so massive that we decided to upgrade our entire core switching network, deploying the latest Huawei Next Generation Media Gateway technology and equipment.
"Our ability to complete the first cutover to the new network within seven weeks of the tender award, and ensuring a smooth changeover to the new core without any disruption to service, can be attributed to a number of factors. In fact, it is these very factors themselves which led to Cell C's being recognised as a leader in this field, while providing crucial lessons for other operators."
Top of the list, according to Boiles, is the impressively short period of time in which the project was completed, thanks to the processes and structures in place. "However, without the excellent inter-departmental relationships which facilitated the speed of operation, and the outstanding technical experience of our staff, this would not have been possible," he points out.
Extensive testing before implementation ensured that everything ran according to plan, with every potential problem being solved before the network went live.
"This included making sure that all power, space and other infrastructure requirements came under the microscope early in the project to ensure that poor planning in these areas didn't jeopardise the whole undertaking," Boiles adds.
"Everyone was also very clear about the key performance indicators (KPIs) defined for the project so that both measuring performance after completion and sourcing of statistics to evaluate success were facilitated.
"Project management kept a focused eye on the bigger picture too, because with teams concentrating on their own deliverables, it is easy to lose sight of the wood because of all the trees."
Consequently close attention was also paid to other revenue-generating streams, with people from each individual team responsible for monitoring other systems and services.