MTN South Africa puts focus on LTE and fibre

CAPE TOWN--MTN South Africa CEO Ahmad Farroukh said the operator's focus is now on next-generation networks for both mobile and fixed access, with LTE and fibre networks in the process of being rolled out across the country.

Speaking to FierceWireless:Europe at AfricaCom here, Farroukh said "the new play will be LTE", and he firmly believes that South African users are more than ready for the higher-speed data services. The company already offers LTE services to its mobile Internet subscribers, including a pay-as-you-go option for prepaid users.

In August, MTN South Africa said it had already rolled out LTE networks to parts of Gauteng, the Free State, KwaZulu Natal, and the Western, Central, and Eastern Cape with more sites coming online throughout the year. At that time, the operator said more than 790 MTN LTE sites were live nationally, with a further 825 sites integrated with LTE technology. Farroukh said the number of LTE sites has now reached around 1,000.

Farroukh conceded that spectrum resources are a limiting factor, as MTN has to rely on its existing spectrum in the 800 MHz, 900 MHz and 1800 MHz bands until new spectrum is allocated.

However, he is intent on ensuring that LTE is a good experience for users, and that includes an effective backhaul network. For Farroukh, fibre is the only real option when it comes to backhaul.

Indeed MTN is also deploying a fibre access network across the country, and in October unveiled rollout plans and pricing for fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) following a pilot of the service in Johannesburg, where the company tested a fibre network capable of delivering speeds of up to 100 Mbps.

The FTTH rollout will be driven by demand, the company said at the time, and is an extension of its established fibre connectivity backbone.

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