Nothing is worse than losing connectivity due to a weak signal or no service when load-shedding or vandalism strike and affect network availability. This makes it harder to reach your loved ones, enjoy your favorite shows, and keep your business going. Keeping you connected is what MTN is all about, and we are investing significant amounts towards ongoing network resilience and working towards having all network towers off the grid in time so that load-shedding does not affect the quality of our service.
In March this year, MTN announced an investment of R1.5 billion towards a network resilience program to ward off the negative impact and frustration caused by power cuts, theft, and vandalism and help enhance network availability and stability over the long term.
We are very proud that in KZN, we have modernized 245 sites in the region and plan to reach a total of 317 by the end of 2023. We are also rolling out 28 new sites this year, including in rural areas.
This will enhance capacity and drive quality. This means numerous underserved communities benefit from the network resilience program, with more sites expected to be modernized in the coming months.
With a significant portion of South Africa’s population living in rural areas, MTN is committed to expanding its network to underserved communities and aims to achieve 95% rural broadband coverage by 2025. MTN Group is chasing the same ambition across Africa.
Our investment has resulted in an improvement in network availability in line with international benchmarks despite the ongoing bouts of load-shedding. It has led to 45 new 5G sites being deployed in some new areas like Standerton, Hilton, Vryheid, Ulundi, and Stanger/KwaDukuza, with consolidation taking place in other areas to expand coverage.
This adds to the 246 5G sites in the region. It has gone towards installing additional backup power sources such as batteries and generators and will also ensure increased security features at cell towers, as well as the installation of solar panels.
Our driving purpose is to accelerate digital access for as many South Africans as possible and brighten lives through the power of connectivity. In KZN, MTN is rolling out 14 rural sites this year, led by completed sites in rural Greytown, Tugela Ferry rural, and Quachas Nek Border Post into Lesotho.
While network availability during load-shedding was often reduced to 86% in KZN, the current resilience completion rate, network availability has been at 98% and this is improving further as MTN’s network resilience drive continues.
MTN will continue to play a bold role in accelerating South Africa’s development. We know that extending digital and financial inclusion is more critical than ever, and innovation won’t stop as we drive further progress and significantly enhance access from here.
“We want the opportunities that the digital world offers to be universal, contributing as a positive force for the transformation of individuals, companies, and society. To support this, we are harnessing the power of MTN across our key regions.”
However, we need a greater collective effort in the fight against crime and vandalism. Communities must continue to play a proactive role in helping mitigate the effects of site vandalism, especially during load-shedding.
Criminals have continued to use the cover of darkness during load shedding as an opportunity to strike, but our fightback, with the support of our communities in KZN, has been strong.