Telecom Lead Africa: MTN is set to launch LTE in Johannesburg, Durban and Pretoria within the next three months.
The group will initially provide LTE coverage within the three urban cities. MTN claims that about 40 percent of its network is capable of running LTE and HSPA+ technologies.
“LTE, and similar technologies, is expected to meet consumer needs for full service continuity, a seamless network and high-speed Internet connection,” said MTN South Africa CTO Kanagaratnam Lambotharan.
Over the past year, South Africa’s data consumption increased 200 percent, Smartphone use jumped 128 percent and the number of data users in South Africa rose to about 12-million.
MTN is yet to finalize pricing structure for LTE service.
To date, through MTN’s BTS modernization program, over 2800 sites were upgraded to enable the hosting of LTE and HSPA technology. Over 1000 sites were upgraded in 2011, while over 1600 will be upgraded by the end of 2012.
MTN’s Capex plan in aggressive. It spent about R7-billion in 2011 and 2012 for expanding its network capacity and capability. MTN will spend another R7-billion in 2013.
The group added 1294 new 3G sites to its portfolio in 2011 and 2012, and the network now provided 3G coverage to almost 65 percent of South Africa’s population through 3851 sites countrywide. MTN aimed to reach between 80 percent and 85 percent 3G coverage by the end of 2013. The company’s EDGE capacity provided coverage to 92 percent of South Africa.
In 2011, MTN rolled out in 204 new 2G sites, followed by another 314 2G sites in 2012, bringing network coverage to 98.6 percent of the country’s population. Currently, MTN has 6772 2G sites installed around South Africa.