Telecoms

MTN outlines broadband strategy

Read time 2min 10sec

Since 2007, second mobile operator MTN has spent R14 billion to upgrade its network to focus on optimised smartphone performance, and plans further upgrades in 2011.

Lambo Kanagaratnam, newly-appointed CTO at MTN SA, explains that the operator is modernising its base station equipment, paying attention to energy efficiency by deploying cellular towers using renewable energy resources.

“MTN already has approximately 150 base stations with fibre access and hopes to increase this number five-fold in 2011. MTN will use both its own fibre infrastructure and that of fibre partners to achieve this,” he adds.

MTN is aggressively expanding transmission of its 21Mbps HSPA+ radio and fibre network, and is currently testing 42Mbps HSPA+ on a live network in Sandton.

However, the operator notes that the rollout of 42Mbps HSPA+ will depend on the availability and cost of devices that support these higher speeds.

All MTN's switches in Gauteng are currently connected via fibre, while the Cape Town and Durban switches are connected via fibre partners.

The operator's continued investment has paid off, with the company reporting a boom in mobile data revenue at its latest financial results presentation.

MTN reported a 49% leap in data revenue from the previous financial year, of which its South African operation contributed 58% of the group total.

Green focus

Key to MTN's network upgrade has been on the focus to utilise power from non-traditional, cost-effective energy resources. Recent additions to its green strategy include MTN's Centurion-based data centre, which can operate independently of SA's electricity grid supplied by Eskom.

MTN considered wind and solar power, but concluded that the only viable alternative to Eskom was the natural gas Sasol pipes 820km from the Mozambique coast.

The data centre will still have connections to Eskom and backup diesel generators in case of disruption to the gas supply, explains the operator.

Furthermore, MTN is modernising its base station equipment, paying attention to energy efficiency by deploying cellular towers using renewable energy resources. These towers are completely off Eskom's supply grid.

In line with its renewable energy requirements, MTN has erected the country's tallest network tower in Klein-Aarpan, near the Northern Cape town of Upington, which provides cellular network coverage to the area using the power of the sun and wind.

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