MTN eyes LTE expansion in Eastern Cape with US$11.8m investment

SOUTH AFRICA – Mobile telecoms company MTN has announced it has made over half a billion rand investment to boost its network in several provinces across South Africa.

The telco announced an additional R170 million (US$11.8 million) investment in the Eastern Cape “to offer consumers and businesses greater access to the world of digital opportunity in this important economic hub”.

This comes after South Africa’s second-biggest mobile carrier revealed in July 2021 it is making significant headway in ensuring more people in South Africa benefit from the modern, connected world.

At the time, it noted the planned network investment in the Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West areas for the 2021 financial year of R350 million (US$24.4 million) is aimed at modernizing, upgrading and building new sites and transmission links.

According to the mobile operator, the MTN network currently provides coverage to over 98% of the population in the Eastern Cape province and over 87% of the population already have LTE coverage.

“In the past six months, MTN has made significant improvements to its network infrastructure across the board, and the opportunity now exists to grow our LTE footprint in the Eastern Cape, ensuring more customers have access to the LTE network,” says Gregg Anderson, MTN GM for Eastern Cape.

“The additional investment provided to the Eastern Cape will allow us to grow our LTE footprint to close to 93% in the province by the end of 2021, supporting our vision that everyone deserves the benefit of a modern connected life.”

Connectivity challenges

Anderson noted that the investment in the Eastern Cape will, in the short term, ensure improved connection and data speed in areas that may have had connectivity challenges in the past.

He added the company’s longer-term strategic intent includes network modernization, network resilience, building new sites and 5G expansion, with the aim of helping to support and drive business and job growth in SA.

In a statement, MTN said its recent finalization of the long-awaited Coastal National Long Distance (NLD) cable project, known in the industry as NLD 5 and NLD 6, has added great capacity in the coastal areas.

With the added R170 million (US$11.8 million)investment, it says, improved network reach and stability will accelerate MTN’s footprint in previously disadvantaged communities.

“The additional investment provided to the Eastern Cape will allow us to grow our LTE footprint to close to 93% in the province by the end of 2021”

Gregg Anderson – GM, Eastern Cape, MTN

The investment will see MTN building new LTE sites in districts such as Joe Gqabi District, OR Tambo District and Amathole District, and expanding 5G in Gqeberha and East London, said the telco.

South Africa is the nation with the most developed internet ecosystem in Africa; therefore, the country’s long-term success will be based on sustainable and accelerated job creation, and the best way to do this is by helping small and medium businesses grow both in urban and rural areas,” continued Anderson.

MTN noted key partnerships with the Eastern Cape government and municipality partners will also see ongoing support for children and education facilities in the region.

“In a digital era, quality network coverage and good internet speeds remain key resources in closing the digital access gaps in South Africa. Everyone is entitled to enjoy the benefits of the modern, connected world and its endless possibilities,” added Anderson.

Digital benefits

When announcing the R350 million network investment in Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West provinces last month, Kagiso Moncho, MTN GM for the Northern Region, said: “We want to bridge the digital divide and create exciting opportunities for communities, businesses and individual users. Our investment is, therefore, about far more than achieving market share growth in the region – it is about bringing the benefits of the digital world to more people through a stable, secure and innovative network experience.”

“We are already seeing active data users and traffic increase as more consumers seek affordable, innovative and reliable digital services and solutions. The key for us is to deliver network excellence and an enterprise turnaround. This will be underpinned by modernization and roll-out of 5G, together with price competitiveness,” said Moncho.

MTN points out that maintaining network quality remains the key objective despite challenges, like battery theft.

MTN is making strides with its fifth-generation (5G) technology roll-out strategy. We have already activated 5G in greater Polokwane and Witbank and intend to expand the 5G coverage footprint further across the region, into areas such as Nelspruit and Middelburg. Added to this is that 93% of towers in the Northern Region have LTE.”

“We are committed to ensuring our network coverage and quality is maintained and expanded so our customers stay connected. This is even more critical in the face of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown; connectivity is essential for medical emergencies as well as for learners and individuals working from home,” emphasized Moncho.

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