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MTN says it is ready for the World Cup



MTN South Africa has invested hundreds of millions of Rands in its network to ensure that its customers and fans arriving in South Africa over the next few weeks enjoy a seamless and quality service. The service providers says that both its voice and data networks are ready for the 2010 FIFA World Cup and beyond.

Says Sameer Dave, chief technology officer of MTN SA: ‚In addition to the upgrades and investment in the network infrastructure around the country, we have also been involved in the installation of millions of Rands worth of equipment and the upgrade of systems in the ten World Cup stadia. This is to ensure that all the fans within the stadium and the communities living and working around that stadium both experience a world-class, quality and seamless service throughout the event.‚

‚We have ring-fenced the capacity according to FIFA requirements, and will ensure it is ‚business as usual’ for the rest of South Africans going about their daily lives,‚ explains Dave.

As the first African global sponsor of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, MTN views this event not only as an ideal marketing and branding opportunity, but also a huge responsibility, to bring the country in line with what is happening on a global scale with regards to voice and data connectivity.

‚As the official mobile operator for the World Cup, we would like to reassure the public of MTN’s ability to deliver a world-class, functioning network. We understand fully the demands that will be placed on our network during June and July, hence the major investment in network infrastructure, which began in 2007.

‚We know the fans at the matches will want to share in their excitement, joy or despair, touch base with friends to meet up after the game, confirm a ride home or send a photograph to family back home ‚ and all of this using their cell phones. Then, there are the millions of football fans not at a stadium who want to download information such as match results, team and player information, video clips, images and the like. We have spent the past three years at MTN preparing for this event to ensure that we meet all these needs,‚ states Dave.

At each of the designated stadia, MTN has installed Distributed Antenna Systems with dedicated BTS (Base-station Transceiver System) hotels, which are designed to solve the problem of carrying thousands of calls within a confined space. In essence, the system converts radio signals to light, distributes the light and then converts it back to radio. This system allows MTN to create a great many small cells, which enables it to carry an excessive amount of traffic.

‚To explain further what our systems are capable of, a typical radio site contains three radio base stations. The BTS hotel installed at Soccer City contains 22 radio base stations. A typical site has six cells ‚ at Soccer City there are 38.

‚The MTN installation at Soccer City, which is the biggest, contains almost 6km of fibre optic and approximately 10km of radio feeder. And, there are 348 antennae installed throughout the stadium to ensure even and seamless coverage.

‚A radio system such as this one comes at a price however, and our investment in the system at Soccer City alone has cost us in excess of R25-million to design and install. Similar systems, but on a smaller scale, have been installed at each of the other nine stadia,‚ explains Dave.

MTN has placed a similar focus on the country’s airports with radio systems identical to the one installed at Soccer City, installed at OR Tambo and Cape Town International Airports, as well as the newly-opened King Shaka Airport in Durban.

Almost every other airport in the country has also been upgraded to some extent to ensure MTN is capable of handling the anticipated influx of voice, SMS and data traffic during the World Cup period.

‚We have also upgraded our network infrastructure around the main hotels, training venues, places where people gather, and routes to and from the stadia, airports etc. We have compiled a dedicated plan for the MTN Fan Zones and the FIFA Fan Fests, and have equipped eight vehicles as mobile radio base stations which can be deployed at a moment’s notice to an area that requires extra network capability,‚ concludes Dave.