MTN said on Tuesday that it will reach 90% population coverage with 4G/LTE technology in South Africa before the end of the year, outpacing rival Vodacom.
“We have crossed 11 000 sites,” MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa said at a press conference on Tuesday. In the past three years, the number of South Africans with access to 4G on MTN’s network has risen from 15 million to more than 50 million, he said.
MTN’s total population coverage using 2G technology has reached 99%, while the figure for 3G is 98%.
The 4G milestone comes on the back of heavy investments in infrastructure in the past three years — MTN has spent more than R10-billion/year on its network in the past three years, more than its chief rival.
The investment in 4G has focused not only on urban areas, but more recently in rural areas, too, said MTN South Africa chief information and technology officer Giovanni Chiarelli.
The company has done this even though communications regulator Icasa has still not released radio frequency spectrum specifically for 4G/LTE technology.
At Tuesday’s press conference, Motsa again appealed to government to ensure there is robust infrastructure competition in South Africa, arguing that the Electronic Communications Amendment Bill, if enacted as it stands, could undermine investment.
“The idea of opening our infrastructure at cost will disincentive us from investing in infrastructure,” Motsa said.
“We believe infrastructure competition counts… There is a huge fight between us and our red competitor to cover 100% of the country. It is a fallacy that infrastructure competition is meaningless in driving down prices. If you monopolise infrastructure or undermine infrastructure competition, you will not reduce prices.”
He said that although MTN supports government’s plan to create a wholesale open-access network (Woan), he said this must not be done in a way that undermines competition.
“There needs to be a rational balance of spectrum allocation. The 800MHz band is going to be fully allocated to the Woan (but this) band is the most valuable band out of unallocated spectrum,” Motsa said. “The Woan should be viable. We said we’d buy up to 30% of the capacity, but we have to coexist. The Woan has to compete fairly. No one should be artificially enabled to move forward.” — © 2018 NewsCentral Media