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MTN spends R40 billion on network upgrades

MTN South Africa Chief Technology and Information Officer, Giovanni Chiarelli
MTN South Africa Chief Technology and Information Officer, Giovanni Chiarelli

JOHANNESBURG – MTN has invested over R40 billion ($2,8 billion) in the past four years to build South Africa’s best network, the company disclosed as it announced it was developing a software-defined Wide-Area Network (SD WAN) and re-purposing thousands of sites across the country.

The move is aimed at harnessing narrowband internet of things (NB-IoT) as the rollout of turnkey solutions for enterprise customers gathers pace.

“This investment is proof of our vision which is translated into exceptional performance numbers and improved network experience for our customers,” said Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer at MTN South Africa.

He said technology advancement was an important part of the business and the numbers it was looking at investing in the next few years were in the same ballpark as what it spent in the past.

“Not many companies in South Africa or on the continent are investing as much as we do in technology today. We are very serious about technology excellence as the catalyst that helps deliver exceptional solutions for our customers,” Chiarelli said.

An NB-IoT network is a Low Power Wide Area Network (LPWAN) radio technology standard that provides strong coverage over large areas and enables wide-range connectivity of new IoT devices and services Software-defined networking (SDN) technology, meanwhile, connects enterprise networks over large geographic distances.

MTN SA plans to enable each one of its network sites with NB-IoT capability.

“All our sites will be enabled with NB-IoT in the lowest possible frequency to give the broadest coverage. We expect to have the full dispersion of NB-IoT on our entire network footprint,” said Chiarelli.

MTN SA’s microwave link network serves approximately 71 percent of businesses, while its fibre to the business (FTTB) network spans over 18 000 kilometers and has a capacity to serve over 30 percent of the business community.

In addition, MTN SA has eight data centres and 30 regional data centres.

“Our network needs to move to new generation to support 5G capabilities on the one hand, and to support additional spectrum bands that will hopefully be assigned soon,” Chiarelli said.

He said spectrum allocation is crucial to provide the company with the capacity to cater to increasing demands on its 4G network, which is doubling each year.

“Without additional spectrum, we will be constrained in our ability to support our enterprise clients with new technologies,” he concluded.

– CAJ News

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