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MTN uses unlicensed spectrum to launch Supersonic AirFibre

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Supersonic CEO Calvin Collett.
Supersonic CEO Calvin Collett.

MTN today announced the launch of its Supersonic AirFibre offering, which it says overcomes distance and a lack of infrastructure in urban, township and rural communities to bring fibre-quality connectivity to more households across the country.

“We are breaking down the traditional barriers to entry that have denied many access to a modern, connected life,” says Calvin Collett, managing director of MTN SA’s ISP – Supersonic. “From Soweto to Swellendam, we believe that every household deserves the speed and benefits of fibre-like connectivity, and through AirFibre, we believe we can achieve this.”

According to MTN, Supersonic AirFibre will bring high-speed, inexpensive and uncapped connectivity solutions to areas in which traditional fibre installations are not available.

Built on unlicensed spectrum, the company says the solution was designed, built and is maintained by MTN’s technology team to deliver a network quality that is in line with MTN’s standards, at affordable rates.

Due to the current major lack of available spectrum, MTN has located unlicensed spectrum – a readily available resource – and combined it with innovative technology now available to effectively leverage open spectrum.

This is something that was previously not possible or stable, says MTN.

Telecoms regulator the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) is set to auction the much-needed high-demand spectrum next month.

Operators have been waiting for this spectrum for over a decade in order for them to expand services like 5G, as well as to bring down mobile data prices. The fiscus will also get a boost from the planned auction.

However, the plans for the March auction are facing a threat as mobile operators – Telkom and MTN – have approached the courts to challenge ICASA on the process.

“Our Supersonic AirFibre offering is in line with our track record of optimising frequency bands. Previously, we have undertaken this approach through the allocation of repurposed bands for 2G mobile services (using GSM technology) as well as a new generation of mobile technologies, including third-generation (using UMTS) technology and fourth-generation (using LTE) technology,” says Collett.

MTN notes that among AirFibre’s advantages are that it can be speedily installed as no trenching is required, as is the case with traditional fibre. It adds that by subscribing to the service, customers will have access to the new technology that equals that of a full-fibre installation.

“With pricing set from a competitive R399 for 5Mbps Uncapped, AirFibre, which enables multiple users to connect through a single account using the WiFi router that comes as part of the package, is a boon for the ‘new normal’ where communities need to balance life in a pandemic. With schooling, entertainment and work all happening at home, AirFibre offers always-on reliable connectivity, an innovation that we hope will do its part to fuel our economy to bounce back to growth by bringing digital to all,” says Collett.

Supersonic AirFibre will be made available in areas where customers register their demand for the offering.

“This approach allows us to be flexible to our customers' needs and gives us the freedom to deploy the solution in the areas that want and need it most,” Collett concludes.

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