Telecommunications giant MTN South Africa’s long-term evolution (LTE)/fourth-generation (4G) technology now covers 90% of South Africa after the company deployed its 11 000th LTE site in Qatywa, in rural Eastern Cape.
MTN South Africa’s coverage had reached 88% by August and the deployment of the site in the Eastern Cape town pushed LTE coverage for South Africa to the new high of 90%.
“In 2015, five-million South Africans were covered by our 4G network. By the end of 2018, more than 50-million South Africans will be covered,” said MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa during a media briefing on Tuesday.
This means that MTN South Africa’s LTE coverage has gone from zero to 90% in just five years – a significant acceleration on the more than ten years it took to deploy third-generation (3G) to 90% coverage and the 25 years it took to reach 99% coverage of second-generation (2G) communications.
In 2011, the company, which is part of MTN Group, had launched a high-speed mobile LTE pilot at scale, followed by a phased roll-out to 100 sites.
More than 1 000 new sites have been developed so far in 2018 and many more are planned for next year.
Motsa highlighted the significance of the milestone in a severely spectrum-strapped industry that often requires the refarming of spectrum to keep pace with demand.
“By deploying LTE in the 900 MHz band we have been able to achieve two important objectives, which is to further grow LTE coverage in rural areas, while also boosting indoor coverage in the metropolitan [areas],” he explained.
Currently, the number of MTN's rural sites is greater than its urban or metropolitan sites.
“Using technology to drive social development is a core tenet of our rural strategy. The network sites that we build do far more than bring the world together through technology, as they include roads, electricity and other infrastructure improvements that help connect entire communities,” explained MTN South Africa CTO Giovanni Chiarelli.