MTN has rolled out a major network upgrade in the greater eThekwini area over the last 18 months as it enhances services to communities looking for enhanced connectivity.

“Demand for improved speed and connectivity is increasing in tandem with the trends around social media streaming and downloading movies over various platforms. The requirement for more 4G/LTE capacity is therefore required as we strive to enhance the lives of even more people that rely on our services on a daily basis,” says Giovanni Chiarelli, chief technology and information officer at MTN SA.

Whether it is connecting with loved ones or engaging in business related matters, MTN wants to provide the best communication solutions possible. This necessary development means many more sites have been developed to meet customers’ data hungry demands.

With this increase in demand for data capacity, MTN entered into an infrastructure sharing agreement with eThekwini Disaster management and emergency control unit with regards to utilising their camera poles.

“The infrastructure sharing agreement commenced in 2010 and is no different to other sharing agreements MTN and other third parties have with one another to share infrastructure. The aim is to alleviate the need for more structures in close proximity to one another, which then becomes unsightly,” explains Chiarelli.

eThekwini’s Disaster Management and Emergency Control Unit is also in the process of rolling out a massive upgrade to their CCTV systems, which includes number plate recognition. This project is in line with the Municipal Integrated Development Programme, which includes creating a safe city, as well as the new smart city objective.

“This agreement is not unique to MTN – in fact the City has or has had similar agreements with other telecommunication providers,” says the head of eThekwini’s disaster management and emergency control unit, Vincent Ngubane

As the two entities had similar objectives, it only made sense to share the infrastructure. eThekwini Municipality has the camera poles on their land and manages the entire process. MTN in turn utilises these poles to install their equipment.

Additionally, MTN in some instances placed their equipment on the eThekwini Disaster Management camera poles prior to eThekwini Disaster Management installing their CCTV cameras. This was due to eThekwini Disaster Management not having stock of the CCTV cameras.

“This unfortunately has led to an incorrect perception of the general public to believe that the eThekwini Disaster Management camera poles were only for cell towers. eThekwini Disaster Management have now confirmed that they have stock of the CCTV cameras and will be installing them on their camera poles,” says Chiarelli.

A feature of the sharing agreement is that rental is paid to eThekwini Disaster Management for the utilisation of the camera poles. The financial reward assists eThekwini Disaster Management with expenses, rolling out and the operating cost of having a CCTV system.

MTN has followed the guidance of the municipality in deploying their network infrastructure on these camera poles. Placing the highest priority on quality, their equipment is all ICASA approved. Furthermore, MTN follows World Health Organization (WHO) standards and is guided by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) with regard to electromotive force (EMF). MTN also has an independent company that audits all of its installations to meet these standards.

“Any complaints related to our network or expansion activities are therefore investigated fully. Where complaints are found to be valid we use the results to improve our processes and enhance training to satisfy the community and/ or a community member.

“Our working principles are and have always been underpinned by Health and Safety which means adherence to ICNIRP endorsed by WHO and SA Department of Health, using predictive reports to ensure adherence and live measurements on request.

“MTN utilises an independent company that audits all its installations to meet these standards.

“We continue to make a difference in the lives of the communities in which we operate and will provide solutions that matter, at the same time meeting the highest technical and service standards,” says Chiarelli.