MTN extends LTE coverage

The race into Long-Term Evolution (LTE) is gathering pace in South Africa with MTN saying yesterday its LTE offering is now available over an extended South African footprint.

Positioned as the second largest player in South Africa, MTN is racing against South Africa’s number one by subscriber base, Vodacom, towards comprehensive LTE offering. LTE succeeds 3G as the latest generation of mobile broadband platform and promises ultrahigh internet speed.

The speed in which players move in rolling out LTE in their networks may prove to be the winning card within the matured mobile telephone South African market.

While the voice market is matured, South Africa poses enormous growth opportunities in the data space. The upgrade by consumers into smart devises is only beginning and with it comes huge growth of data consumption. This is reflected in the latest financial results of MTN and Vodacom, both of which show struggling voice revenue in South Africa but reflect huge data revenue growth.

MTN said yesterday it is now providing LTE over an extended South African footprint after launching the service in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Durban in December 2012 and later extending to other major cities.

However the service remains limited to contract and top-up customers. MTN SA Chief Marketing Officer Serame Taukobong said “The LTE packages for the prepaid markets are currently under development and MTN will announce their availability in due time”.

Taukobong said new customers just need to purchase a 128K LTE simcard and subscribe to the free LTE VAS service while existing customers with an LTE capable device can also access LTE at no cost.

The company said it has made significant investments preparing for the LTE rollout by modernising over 1600 base station and activating HSPA+ (High Speed Packet Access) on close to 1000 sites in 2012.

The company added that re-farming of availability, in reality, is playing a key role in enabling cost-effective LTE network migration.  By re-using existing 2G and 3G spectrum for LTE, MTN is able to extend the lifespan of its existing spectrum assets and reduce the amount of additional spectrum required by up to a third.

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