HeroTel expands Eastern Cape footprint

HeroTel has acquired another wireless Internet service provider (WISP) in the Eastern Cape, LCom Communications, in an attempt to consolidate its position in the province and expand its rural coverage.

LCom is based in Queenstown and provides wireless broadband services across the central and northern regions of the Eastern Cape. This is primarily a rural area with limited telecommunications infrastructure. Founded in 2013, LCom has built a sizeable WISP business, which stretches from Cradock, up to Aliwal North and across into Transkei.

HeroTel says LCom neatly closes the coverage gap the group previously had in the Eastern Cape, since acquiring IGEN Wireless in Port Elizabeth and Border Internet in East London earlier this year.

“Our goal is to facilitate Internet access across the entire country, not just to those living in urban areas,” HeroTel chairman Alan Knott-Craig Jnr told ITWeb exclusively.

“LCom has a strong presence in the former Transkei region, all the way up to Mthatha. We are going to assist LCom in expanding this network even deeper into the interior. LCom represents everything that is exciting about this industry. It services farmers, businesses, townsfolk and rural establishments in an area where few Internet options exist,” he says.

“We see this as an opportunity to build on what we have done over the past four years. Having HeroTel on our side will accelerate the investment in our staff and our network,” says Estiaan Ferreira, GM of LCom.

“The team can’t wait to expand further into the Transkei and west towards Graaff-Reinet, unlocking the latent economic potential that increased broadband penetration brings,” Ferreira adds.

This is HeroTel’s 25th acquisition to date and will see over 1 500 clients being added to the group. The company would not disclose the value of the transaction, but said that as with previous purchases, it plans to keep the LCom team intact.

“We have a strong base now in the Eastern Cape from which to accelerate our growth. Our three businesses in this area will start working together to close up the small gaps that exist between their networks,” says HeroTel financial director Van Zyl Botha.

“It is our strategy to continue to densify the regions in which we operate, as is the case with this deal. While we have a strong acquisition pipeline, we are always looking for new WISPs to join the Alliance.”

The company says it will announce a number of additional acquisitions in the next few weeks.

HeroTel now has expanded coverage via its WISPs in Gauteng, North West, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.