MTN has unveiled plans to improve network quality, data speeds and coverage across the country with focus on major cities and high density areas such as malls, along the freeways and national roads.
The multi-pronged network optimisation strategy encompasses an end to end improvement of the network from radio technology to core and IP platforms.
The company has already doubled LTE throughput speeds over the last 18 months and rolled out an additional 4 500 LTE sites in all the main cities across the country.
In addition to expanding its LTE coverage, MTN SA also improved its 3G coverage by deploying an additional 2 400 new 3G sites, and expanded its fibre network footprint by rolling out 900 new fibre to site connections and installed 1 300 new physical sites to its network.
Rural coverage was also improved during this period when the U900 spectrum was layered on top of the U2100 to improve coverage.
The network upgrades focused mainly on improving voice quality and upload and download speeds, and comprised of continuous monthly drive tests to assess network quality and coverage.
Babak Fouladi, MTN Group executive of technology and information systems: “Transforming customer experience is one of the key strategic objectives that MTN has set out to achieve, and we believe that a seamless and high performing networks remain a prerequisite that customer-centricity is anchored on.
“We have made substantial investments in stabilizing our network by managing technology, power and infrastructure more efficiently, deploying targeted design principles that are focused on customer experience and ensuring stable network uptime with high quality.
“The latest independent speeds tests have shown that MTN provides the fastest average mobile download speeds in South Africa. These test results vindicates the investment MTN has made in its network and encourages us to work harder to provide our customers with the quality of service they have come to expect from MTN,” says Fouladi.
He adds that MTN is working on addressing a number of outstanding challenges including power stability and vandalism of its telecommunications equipment at its sites, which includes back-up batteries and generators.
“We are negotiating a new security contract to safeguard our sites against theft and vandalism. We are also piloting the usage of lithium-based batteries and the implementation of a remote controlled access system to our sites.”
Fouladi reiterated MTN’s position on speedy allocation of 700/800/2600 spectrum, saying delays experienced in the allocation of high frequency spectrum are hampering the operators’ ability to roll out new generation networks and build networks that cater to growing data demands. The 700/800 spectrum is most suitable for rural roll out, it is pivotal that we bring telecommunication coverage into rural areas, especially to the previously disadvantaged communities.
“The exponential growth in data consumption due to the rapid adoption of smart devices has not been supported and complemented by the allocation of requisite spectrum to support these services. Delays in expediting the allocation of spectrum is stifling mobile broadband penetration and is restricting the ability of the operators to build and roll out quality networks that can meet the demands of today’s digital age,” Fouladi says.