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MTN South Africa progresses network resiliency

Image of MTN sign

IMPROVED RESILIENCE Despite the extremes experienced in May, MTN achieved improved network resilience

Photo by Bloomberg

4th October 2023

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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South African telecommunications giant MTN has deployed more than 20 000 batteries, 5 000 rectifiers and nearly 900 generators to sites across South Africa and is spending R4.5-billion to R5-billion in an effort to ensure seamless communications during loadshedding.

While this is helping MTN to maintain network resiliency amid the higher stages of loadshedding, vandalism and theft, exacerbated by the ongoing loadshedding crisis, remain a significant concern for the company.

The stages of loadshedding have increased year-on-year, with MTN South Africa CEO Charles Molapisi explaining that, during May 2023, there were 29 days of Stage 5 and 6 loadshedding, while, in May 2022, loadshedding had never increased beyond Stage 3.

“While there was a brief respite in the second quarter of 2023 with a reduction in loadshedding compared with the first quarter, power outages continued to pose a significant challenge to our operations. During the first half of 2022, there were 68 days with loadshedding, but this figure nearly tripled to 181 days in that same period this year,” he explained.

Despite the extremes experienced in May, MTN achieved improved network resilience as the company and its network partners worked seven days a week to ensure customers stayed connected during the bouts of loadshedding.

“In August alone, MTN had completed in the region of 2 000 site enhancements, surpassing set targets. With new site enhancements coming on board almost daily, to date, more than 5 000 sites have been successfully upgraded,” said Molapisi in a statement issued on Wednesday, noting that the ongoing investment resulted in a 15% improvement of network availability.

However, loadshedding increases the vulnerability of towers to vandalism, with network sites targeted for copper cables, batteries, air conditioners and generators and left with significant damage under the cover of darkness, which leads to tower malfunctions and disruptions.

“While we are doing well on all fronts in shoring up our network resilience during periods of loadshedding, and particularly during the higher stages, the criminal activity continues to inflict deteriorated network experiences on our valued customers,” said Molapisi.

“One of the key initiatives contributing to the remarkable improvement in MTN’s network availability has been rolling out a comprehensive national resilience programme in key regions, including Johannesburg, the Western Cape, Tshwane, KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and the Central region.”

The programme comprises several infrastructure enhancements, such as battery upgrades, rectifier swaps, backup generator installations and site security measures to safeguard both active and passive infrastructure.

“It is an ongoing battle, but one that we are committed to winning as we fight to provide our customers with a reliable and resilient network. Our efforts and the results we are seeing underscore our dedication to ensuring uninterrupted connectivity, even in the face of loadshedding challenges, to ensure that all can share in the benefits of a modern connected life,” Molapisi concluded.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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