Giving SA some love
Ditches Telkom and builds own network
WITH MTN’S RAPID expansion overseas it isn’t hard for its subscribers in South Africa to feel a bit like the neglected child. However, the R7,1bn it’s set to spend over the next year or so in upgrading its infrastructure throughout SA should calm the most cynical criticisms.
Speaking to journalists last week, MTN SA MD Tim Lowry outlined an aggressive plan to improve the quality of its network and ensure customer services are improved. Industry pundits have seen SA as a saturated market but he says MTN is still seeing strong movement from the pre-paid market into the post-paid (contract) market. “We expect that market to continue to grow at a significant rate for the next two to three years and there’s a lot to play for,” Lowry says.
To cope with that growth – including 100% year-on-year expansion in the wireless data market – it’s more than doubling its capital expenditure from the R3,5bn allocated last year to R7,1bn allocated for this year.
Part of that expenditure is going into a fibre ring in Gauteng that will reduce its reliance on Telkom for connections between its base stations and core network. Lowry says the decision to go that route was driven by the long lead times for connectivity from Telkom, plus the degradation of the service levels it had been receiving from the incumbent operator. “Some 50% to 60% of our outages are directly related to downtime on the part of Telkom.”
It will also be laying 5 000km of fibre to link SA’s various urban areas. That will probably be achieved in conjunction with one other operator in order to keep the costs of the exercise down, although Lowry was unwilling to reveal which company would be its likely partner.