After more than a year of testing, MTN South Africa will on Saturday launch its fourth-generation long-term evolution (4G/LTE) network on a commercial basis in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban.
MTN confirmed on Friday that the network would go live on 1 December.
Coverage is available in various parts of Pretoria, including Menlyn, Centurion, Pretoria East and Hatfield. Johannesburg coverage areas include Midrand, Sandton, Rosebank, Fourways, Roodepoort, Fairlands, and OR Tambo International airport, while suburbs in Durban with coverage include Westville, Pinetown, Kloof, Hillcrest, Tongaat, Queensburgh, Amanzimtoti King Shaka International airport and Umhlanga.
A street-level coverage map that shows areas with MTN LTE coverage can be viewed on the company’s website.
The company has not said how many 4G/LTE sites have been switched on for the launch. Previously, it said it wanted as many as 500 live sites before offering services commercially. (Update: MTN says it has more than 500 active LTE sites.)
MTN says the network will offer speeds of up to 70Mbit/s, although consumers should expect average download speeds of between 7Mbit/s and 20Mbit/s.
“Changes in mobile communications have always been evolutionary, and the deployment of LTE will be the same,” says MTN South Africa chief technology officer Kanagaratnam Lambotharan. “It will be a transition from 3G to LTE over a period of several years, as is the case still with the transition from 2G to 3G. The transition to LTE is more than a technology upgrade and needs to be approached correctly.”
The company says it has “modernised” more than 1 600 base station sites in preparation for LTE. It has reallocated 2x10MHz bands in 90% of its LTE sites. In what is clearly meant as a dig at rival Vodacom, which launched commercial LTE services in October, MTN says this spectrum use will provide “faster connection speeds than other network systems which run 2x5MHz”.
To promote its 4G/LTE network, MTN is offering the LTE-enabled 8,9-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab on a 2GB top-up contract for R799/month over 12 months. It says that from the first quarter of 2013, consumers will be able to purchase LTE dongles and other mobile devices on contract. — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media