Vodacom is seeking to acquire a stake in South African open access WiFi network operator VAST Networks, according to a report from MyBroadband that cites sources with knowledge of the move.
VAST Networks, which operates more than 1,750 WiFi hotspots across South Africa's main urban centers, is currently owned by systems integration and IT services giant Dimension Data , with a 51% stake, and media/technology investor Naspers, which holds a 49% stake. It builds and runs the WiFi networks and strikes deals with third-party service providers that use its network to offer Internet access services to end users.
According to the report, Vodacom, South Africa's largest mobile operator with more than 37 million customers and a 45% market share, is interested in how VAST's network could be used to support potential LTE-U (LTE unlicensed) services and for data offload from its licensed spectrum operations.
VAST Networks has WiFi access points operational in several urban centers across South Africa.
Such a move would also fit in with Dimension Data's strategy to offload its assets in Africa: Vodacom has also been linked to a potential takeover move for Internet Solutions (IS), which provides connectivity, cloud, security and communications services to enterprise users in South Africa. (See M&A Interest Grows in South Africa's Internet Solutions.)
— Ray Le Maistre, , International Group Editor, Light Reading for Connecting Africa.