by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – FOLLOWING an investment of R50 billion (US$3,56 billion) over five years, MTN has completed its part in the long-awaited Coastal National Long Distance (NLD) cable project.
The project allows the mobile operator to provide additional capacity between coastal cities and the rest of South Africa.
It covers over 1 800km from Cape Town to Durban, moving through Gqeberha and East London.
“The project gives MTN an opportunity to provide additional and significant capacity between coastal cities and the rest of SA, ensuring the digital world is brought one step closer for many more people,” says Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer at MTN South Africa.
The initiative is known in the industry as NLD 5/6.
It commenced over three years ago, constructed by Liquid Telecoms, with MTN as the key anchor investor.
Apart from the benefits of fast, secure and stable connectivity, more capacity and high speeds, the NLD also forms part of the broader initiative by MTN to modernise its entire network in South Africa.
“NLD 5/6 will enable us to deploy fibre-related connectivity to a wider SA population, particularly to previously disadvantaged rural and township communities,” Chiarelli said.
This is an addition to ACE (East Africa cable) and WACS (West Africa) cable projects that MTN Group is already driving as a key partner.
Closing connectivity gaps remains a challenge across large swathes of sub-Saharan Africa and the completion of this initiative will help connect the unconnected.
The NLD will therefore serve as a major enabler of closing gaps in network coverage while providing current and future required capacity; which has kept so many people, businesses and communities disconnected from the benefits of the modern, digital world.
There are now more than 3,8 billion mobile internet subscribers globally, representing 49 percent of the world’s population.
However, according to GSMA’s 2020 Connected Society’s Mobile Connectivity survey, adoption has not been equitable, with mobile internet adoption standing at 26 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa at the end of 2019.
– CAJ News