MTN today begins testing the ultra-fast LTE broadband service that offers speeds of up to 70Mbps. But it will be a while before consumers benefit.
Today MTN announced the launch of a Long Term Evolution (LTE) pilot in five clusters around Gauteng. it says this “will revolutionise the provisioning of broadband services in South Africa””.
The LTE rollout and pilot test, which MTN is undertaking in partnership with Huawei and Ericsson, will see selected MTN customers with provisioned dongles reaping the benefits of navigating on an ultra-high speed network that boasts speeds of up to 70Mbps across over 100 sites This translates into an enhanced overall experience and a lighting quick PING Time.
MTN’s pilot network encompasses over 100 LTE sites in five clusters covering parts of Sandton, Fourways, Centurion, around OR Tambo International Airport and in the vicinity of MTN Head Office in Roodeport. Activation of the 100+ LTE sites will be done in phases and all the sites are expected to be live within the next months. MTN expects to make this new generation network commercially available throughout the country within the next two to three years once the regulator allocates the required spectrum to enable a national rollout.
Says Kanagaratnam Lambotharan, MTN South Africa Chief Technology Officer: ‚Today’s pilot launch will give our customers a glimpse of what the future looks like. Being the first operator in Africa to launch a LTE pilot network of this scale is a reaffirmation of MTN’s vision to be the leading telecoms operator in emerging markets and emphasises our technology and innovation leadership in mobile communications.‚Our technical teams and partners have been working at full throttle to ensure that we have the technology on the ground that will take customer experience to the next level. We are confident that the pilot will give us sufficient time and opportunity to fine tune the technology and deal with whatever teething challenges we might encounter. We hope that with this initiative our subscribers can optimally tap into future services and applications that the LTE ecosystem is expected to provide,‚ says Kanagaratnam.The pilot will run on 10Mhz of refarmed 1800 MHz spectrum and boasts speeds 70Mbps and a latency of under 15ms. The speed is almost twice faster than what is currently available on the market.
Kanagaratnam adds that MTN’s early pilot of a significantly sized LTE network in areas of high traffic will give MTN the ability to gain better knowledge and experience about the deployment of the LTE technology ahead of its competitors. ‚Full deployment of LTE in future will allow MTN to maximize its infrastructure investment to provide its subscribers with a quality experience that is richer, faster and with significantly more capacity than that provided currently,‚ Kanagaratnam explains.
MTN LTE sites
Ryan Gould, MTN South Africa General Manager: Brand and Communications, adds that the pilot and ultimately the full rollout of LTE network in the future will not only help MTN to improve brand equity, but is an investment in the future that will enhance shareholder value. ‚MTN has always been at the forefront of innovation in the telecoms sector in this country. Being the first telecoms company to pioneer pre-paid and the critically-acclaimed MTN Zone, MTN constantly strives to anticipate market trends and be responsive to the needs of its customers.
‚Being the leading operator on a continent where half the population is under the age of 35, MTN has prepared the infrastructure that will cater to the growing data needs of this section of the population. Our LTE trials should be seen as a response to this need and an attempt at fostering socio-economic development and bridging the digital divide. We are confident that today’s historic event will be a defining moment that will catapult the MTN brand to dizzying heights,‚ says Gould. MTN has invested R18 billion in infrastructure investment and ploughs approximately R4-6 billion in beefing and upgrading its infrastructure each year. These investments that also encompass undersea and fiber optic cables are in preparation of the LTE pilot which will serve as the last mile. ‚While providing speed is important to our customers, our investment in LTE is driven more by giving our subscribers consistent and quality user experience,‚ concludes Gould.