by MTHULISI SIBANDA
JOHANNESBURG – A MOMENTOUS achievement in the history of the country.
That is how MTN has hailed the conclusion of a landmark spectrum auction by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA).
MTN successfully secured three spectrum bands (2 x 10 MHz in 800 MHz; 40 MHz of 2600 MHz; 40 MHz of 3500 MHz), at a total cost of R5,153 billion (US$346, 492 million), the mobile operator announced on Friday.
ICASA secured R14,4 billion from the spectrum auction.
“This is significant milestone, not only for MTN and the telecommunication industry at large but also for South Africa’s digital future,” Charles Molapisi, MTN SA Chief Executive Officer.
“Spectrum is the lifeblood of our industry and is key to reliable and extensive connectivity for our customers across the country,” he added.
The executive said MTN’s multibillion-rand investment into the much-needed spectrum is also an important injection of cash into the national fiscus.
“In anticipation of the spectrum allocation, we had undertaken a modernisation of our network to ensure that we would be ready to leverage this spectrum to the connectivity benefit of South Africans as quickly as possible,” Molapisi said.
MTN will use the spectrum to expand 5G connectivity on South Africa’s best network while also further enhancing rural, peri-urban, and urban network coverage.
ICASA’s allocation of temporary spectrum during the national state of disaster gave MTN extra network capacity to provide more than 4 million people access to free health and education websites each month.
It enabled the operator to reach deeper into small towns and particularly rural communities previously under-serviced due to the lack of the required spectrum.
Currently, MTN has 96 percent of South Africa’s 60,5 million-population covered by 4G network.
“Our core belief at MTN is that everyone deserves the benefit of a modern connected life, and this spectrum allocation is a huge step in helping us bring that to life,” Molapisi said.
In his State of the Nations Address in February, President Cyril Ramaphosa said such reforms would, “revolutionize the country’s technological development, making faster broadband accessible to more people and reducing the costs of digital communications.”
– CAJ News