VODACOM has been appointed communication services provider for Ithuba Holdings which will take over the operation of the national lottery from June 1.

Previous operator Gidani used MTN as its service provider, but Ithuba will be using Vodacom as well as MTN infrastructure, under Vodacom’s management.

The two cellphone operators will provide the communication infrastructure that connects the central gaming systems, the regional office and the lottery terminals in retail outlets through 3G systems.

Instead of a single SIM card in terminals there will be two when Ithuba takes over from Gidani.

Ithuba’s head of lottery implementation, Leonard Paster, said on Monday that having connections through two operators would ensure less downtime since there would always be automatic back-up from one provider if coverage by the other in a particular area was not sufficiently strong.

This would ensure greater reliability, more players, possibly more revenue and less need for antennae to help address the lack of adequate mobile coverage.

Mr Paster said frequent downtime problems in the past had affected the lottery operation.

As part of the partnership deal Vodacom will provide more than 11,000 SIM cards to Ithuba — in addition to the MTN cards in use — to connect the lottery terminals to retailers nationwide.

"The decision to bring Vodacom on board was driven by the company’s experience and reliability of their network as well as the national footprint and reach, which is significant for Ithuba," Ithuba CEO Charmaine Mabuza said.

"We want the lottery to be easily accessible and, more importantly, for the payment system to be effective in any region."

Mr Paster said Ithuba had begun rolling out its terminal infrastructure and signing up new retail outlets.

The National Lotteries Commission was managing the transition to the new lottery operator.

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