Country-wide connectivity and cloud
Seamless connectivity and cloud capability are critical to the success of the modern business, even those in rural areas.
Gaining market share, collaborating with partners, building customer engagement and expanding portfolios: these are just some of the challenges facing the modern business. These are also the challenges that can be overcome through the judicious use of technology and the ubiquity of connectivity.
"When it comes to ICT, I believe businesses want a tailored, cost-effective and reliable solution enabling and supporting growth and expansion," says Calvin Govender, head of Enterprise Planning and Solution Architecture, MTN Business. "They want a one-stop shop that offers all these services alongside superior quality and industry experience. At MTN Business, we realised that to enable true ICT, we needed to invest into the country and its underlying connectivity."
Without connectivity, MTN Business cannot reach the end customer, engage with partners or ignite growth. The company has invested just over R30 billion over the past three years into network infrastructure. This investment includes LTE and 5G capabilities on the wireless front, supported by the network's robust 3G infrastructure, and fixed-line connectivity with its fibre expansion into metropolitan areas.
"Our fibre coverage spans around 14 000 kilometres across the country," adds Govender. "Roll-out has been determined by business requirement and demand. Over the past few years, a lot more businesses have moved out of the metropolitan spaces, so we've adopted a targeted approach, rolling out fibre to wherever there's a concentration of business. We've also extended this reach into residential and rural areas."
There are challenges that go hand-in-hand with fibre. It comes with a high price tag and new municipality regulations have added to the administrative burden, reducing time to market significantly. The price the client business is prepared to pay is often not in line with the cost of implementation, roll-out and legislation, a reality that MTN Business is working to overcome.
"The price is not where we want it to be and we work closely with our customers to develop solutions that not only meet their budgets, but their business requirements," says Govender. "Fibre to the business (FTTB) is a high-density medium ideally suited to the larger enterprise with high demand. For other customers, we look at more cost-effective technology such as microwave and wireless, building connectivity solutions that fit."
Thanks to its belief in the potential and capability of fibre, MTN Business now offers true mobile convergence. For the organisation that isn't able to access fibre today, the company has developed a two-pronged approach. For those organisations unable to access fibre, MTN Business has developed a wireless solution that uses either point-to-point or point-to-multipoint licensed microwaves that can now reach speeds of up to 1Gbps, or a fixed LTE connection. The latter offers umbrella coverage across the country at high speed and with superior quality that can map back to business connectivity demand and requirement.
"This is our short-term strategy for those areas where we can't deliver fibre, for now," says Govender. "But our long-term goal is to provide seamless coverage across the country, allowing customers to connect all their branch offices and have access to MTN's rich suite of Enterprise products. We believe key to developing truly innovative connectivity solutions is to really understand what organisations want and then to find a way of making this into an affordable and efficient reality."
Empowering digital transformation
In addition to working closely with the market and its demand to increase FTTB reach and roll-out, MTN Business is committed to enhancing the country's digital transformation potential. The company has built one primary and secondary data centre in the major provinces, allowing customers to aggregate products and reduce costs. MTN's national long-distance fibre network connects these data centres, ensuring the MTN backhaul product is both fast and efficient.
"The reality is that businesses are moving towards cloud-based offerings and the virtualisation of services," says Govender. "Customers want to buy the network as a service and virtualise it. To remove the pain of investing into infrastructure, organisations need to consider the adoption of cloud services and we have plenty for them to choose from: platform as a service; software as a service; mobility as a service; and so much more. We have the space, the security and the availability that companies need to move into a cloud-based environment."
There are significant benefits to a cloud strategy, and MTN has been paying attention to how it can make this more accessible to customers. The vast fibre network, a variety of connectivity options, investment into data centres and the smorgasbord of X as a service solutions are just some of the boxes the company ticks. It has also forged partnerships with leading cloud services organisations to ensure that customers gain access to a truly rich product portfolio.
"Our investment assures our customers of a lower spend point on infrastructure and removes the risk," says Govender. "They can benefit from the latest technology and see significant gains in operational efficiency using the outsource model that has started to lead the way in the market today. Our partnerships have also been carefully curated to ensure they're strategically capable of providing our customers with access to market-leading solutions."