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MTN rolls out R2.2bn Gauteng township investment

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MTN SA is investing R2.2 billion in network modernisation within Gauteng townships to boost participation in the digital economy.

The telco says the massive investment is as a result of rising data demands in the province, which require network excellence to allow communities to embrace the digital economy.

With the budget, MTN will deploy close to 700 active 5G sites in the region, and R30 million has been set aside to help limit the growing problem of infrastructure vandalism.

The theft and vandalism of infrastructure has resulted in mobile operators losing hundreds of millions of rands over the years. In some cases, the rate of vandalism and theft, especially multiple repeat incidents, is forcing the operators to abandon base stations due to nonviable replacement costs.

MTN’s investment comes on the back of growing emphasis by the provincial government for business to help formalise township-based enterprises and provide support for such businesses.

Last month, the Gauteng Legislature passed the Township Economic Development Bill, saying it helps to economically empower townships and disadvantaged communities.

Now, MTN says its infrastructure investment will help increase network coverage in townships, improving throughputs as it seeks to on-board more people to the digital economy.

“At MTN SA, we are committed to improving access to digital opportunities for more South Africans by accelerating the delivery of reliable, superior network experiences,” says Keith Tukei, GM for Gauteng operations at MTN SA.

“Gauteng remains SA’s economic hub, with half of all national 5G traffic generated from the province. MTN also saw a 45% increase year-on-year in data volume growth in February.

“Our investment will continue to drive the rollout of 5G to enable seamless, fast and cutting-edge experience online. We expect to see Gauteng continuing to lead the drive for 5G and other business-focused innovations, such as artificial intelligence, the internet of things and augmented reality.”

On infrastructure vandalism, Tukei says: “This is a serious issue that denies so many people and businesses access to connectivity, for work and entertainment, or just to stay in touch with loved ones. When connectivity is needed for emergency situations, this becomes even more worrisome.”

On a national level, MTN’s countrywide Modernisation of Network South Africa project is 68% complete, and the telco plans to add 1 350 new sites, with around 200 key regions covered across SA, by the end of the year.

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