South Africans made a staggering 100 million cellphone calls on New Years Day
May 2004 Search For More
South Africans made a staggering 100 million cellphone calls on Christmas Day and at least as many on January 1, giving new meaning to the phrase "ringing in the new year".
Cellphone network Vodacom said more calls were made in December than in any month since cellphones were introduced in South Africa six years ago.
At times Vodacom and MTN were so busy that callers could not get through.
Millions of people clogged the networks phoning friends and relatives and sending short message service (SMS) Christmas and New Year wishes. The busiest time was around midnight on New Year's Eve.
Hundreds of thousands of new cellphone users were connected to the networks last month.
Joan Joffe, Vodacom group executive for corporate affairs, said December had been the company's best sales month. Forecasts of 400 000 new connections were exceeded.
More than nine million SMS messages and 45 million calls were handled on the Vodacom network on Christmas Day and a similar number on New Year's Day.
In the hour starting at midnight on December 31 there were about 7,5-million calls and about 1,8-million SMS attempts.
Yvonne Muthien, MTN corporate relations executive, said the Christmas period was an excellent one for MTN and sales had been good. More than 250 000 prepaid and contract sales had taken the subscriber base to well over three million. Network traffic over Christmas and New Year was very heavy, particularly in SMS messages.
Muthien said the network's capacity at major holiday destinations such as Cape Town and Durban had been boosted to cope with the anticipated increase in call traffic over the festive season.
"There has been a rapid increase in consumer use of SMS messaging in South Africa over the past year. This is in line with international trends. In Europe nearly 70% of cellular traffic is in data as opposed to voice-call format. Towards the end of 2000 our network was handling 140 million SMS messages a month."
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