Fixing broadband connectivity in Tokai

At the Tokai Residents Association’s AGM on November 17, a team of Vodacom’s experts spoke about broadband connectivity issues in the area.

To make the broadband connectivity issues that have plagued Tokai for years a thing of the past, Vodacom has asked the suburb’s residents to “help us, help you.”

According to the mobile operator, there are too few base stations in the area because of objections to land-use applications that would have allowed them to be built.

A team of Vodacom’s experts spoke about the issue during the Tokai Residents’ Association’s annual general meeting at the Steenberg Golf Club, on Thursday November 17.

Vodacom’s radio network planning expert Johan Smit said Tokai was too densely populated with people, trees and large homes, which all played a big role in diminishing the effect of cellphone towers.

The entire area of Tokai has only two base sites, which are at Blue Route Mall and the Pollsmoor prison fields. This results in a very poor quality and signal strength, according to the Vodacom experts.

Mr Smit said it was hard to find suitable locations as close as possible to customers that worked well for connectivity and the community. Over the years, Vodacom had made several land-use applications to build base stations that had been denied for varying reasons.

Permission to build a tower adjacent to the M3 in Dennedal was denied by the City, due to it blocking a scenic view of the Constantiaberg. Both Forest Glade residents and their neighbours objected to a proposal to construct a tower in Forest Glade. Despite the owner of the Total garage in Tokai being in favour of it, the national head office was against building a tower on the property. Recently an application for Tokai library also fell through, due to service lines, like water pipes that run underground. Residents also objected to a building proposal at Tokai Church.

Vodacom has two sites in the pipeline at the moment. Both are waiting for approval from the Department of Public Works, which owns both sites. A 25-metre mono-pole structure is being proposed for the Tokai Park area and a second site will be located near the Pollsmoor prison fields.

Christien Geldenhuys, head of network operations for Vodacom’s Western Cape region, said mobile operators needed the community to support proposals for more base stations.

“We need more base stations because you can’t have one tower covering every single angle… There is no doubt about it, if we don’t get more base stations, we really cannot fix the problem. But that can only be done if the community supports these because both of the proposals will go through public participation.”