MTN believes its network is ready for the increased pressuers that will be placed on it during the World Cup this year. The network operator reports that, despite a significant increase in voice and SMS traffic between Christmas and New Year’s Day, the network was stable and handled the additional demands without any network congestion.
“Thanks to the detailed planning done in anticipation for the traditionally peak load times during the festive season, our network was very stable and able to accommodate the high expectations of our customers,” says Sameer Dave, chief technology officer of MTN South Africa.
Between 25 December and 01 January, there was a significant increase in traffic on the network with an approximately 10% increase in voice calls and a massive 75% increase in data usage driven by 3G/HSPA, over the same period in 2008. Subscriber-generated SMS volumes also increased by almost 25% in December.
Data is fast becoming a key driver in our growth strategy and its performance over the festive season bears testimony to this trend. During the course of the extraordinary expansion, MTNSA added 540 HSPA sites in 2009. This additional capacity lead to enhanced subscriber experience with respect to data speeds.
“As we move into our final implementation stages for the 2010 World Cup, it is encouraging to note that, having handled the increase in traffic over the festive season, the network is ready to process the huge volume increase in both voice and data traffic that we are anticipating during the event. Our investment in the upgrading of our network is finally paying off,” comments Dave.
During 2009, MTN South Africa invested R7,1-billion to upgrade its network and infrastructure, which now covers 98% of the country. This investment will ensure that MTN customers enjoy a seamless and quality service during the 2010 World Cup, and beyond.
This past year has seen MTN’s network team working tirelessly to complete the Core Modernisation, to ensure the readiness, stability and resilience of its complex network infrastructure to cope with the demands that the FIFA World Cup is expected to place on it. 496 2G sites were activated, together with 659 3G sites that now enable almost 50% of the population to enjoy MTN’s 3G coverage. Infrastructure upgrades around the country and the installation of new Packet Core nodes have also enhanced the stability and diversity of MTN’s extensive network coverage.
“On the self-provisioning front, the Gauteng fibre rings are progressing well and traffic migration across to the southern ring of the network commenced in phases from October last year. It is anticipated that the northern ring will be completed by May this year, ensuring improved speech quality and increased bandwidth. The national long-distance fibre network between Johannesburg and Durban has 245km trenched,” says Dave.
Part of the investment has also seen MTN complete the coverage upgrades at all the FIFA 2010 stadiums around the country.
“It is accepted that there is increased network usage around large events. Aside from people needing to share their excitement, joy or despair, there is the need to keep in touch, meet after the game, or find a ride home. We at MTN are as excited as the football fans to cover these stadiums” says Dave.
MTN has therefore enhanced network coverage at all 10 of the FIFA-approved stadiums. Not only does this system provide spectators with the best possible coverage in terms of voice, data and SMS, but it also ring-fences the stadium so that it does not impact on the rest of the network.
“We have made provision to ensure that network usage by the communities in close proximity to the stadiums that host 2010 matches, are unaffected by this increased usage.
“And judging by the exceptional reliability of the network during the holiday season, we are confident that the network will deliver a quality, stable and seamless service to our current subscribers and the thousands of football fans whom we are ready to welcome to South Africa, during the 2010 World Cup," he says.