When a cellphone tower goes down due to a power outage, it will continue running for as long the onsite batteries or generators hold up. Depending on the configuration of nearby towers, a coverage area may lose signal completely or customers will experience spotty service.
Vodacom said their clients would not be able to access services when backup power at their towers becomes depleted. Once power is restored, any missed calls and messages should come through.
Most network operators equip their sites with batteries with a capacity of up to 6 to 12 hours, depending on the site category. These batteries need up to 18 hours to recharge, which is impossible to do during stage 3 and 4 load shedding – much less stage 6! MTN has also weighed in, saying that, despite significant investments into battery back-ups and generators, their mobile sites still deal with the threat of load shedding.
Then there’s also the threat of theft and vandalism on these mobile network sites, which is a problem, even when there is no load shedding to contend with.