MTN South Africa CEO Godfrey Motsa said the company is committed to working with Cell C.
Speaking at the MyBroadband Conference in Midrand, Johannesburg, Motsa stated that MTN would retain its new, expanded roaming agreement with Cell C.
This expanded roaming agreement allows Cell C to rely more heavily on MTN’s infrastructure and reduce its capital expenditure while retaining nationwide coverage and high-speed data services.
“Here is the bottom line – we are committed to working with Cell C,” Motsa said. “Whatever we do with Cell C first and foremost should be in the best interest of MTN shareholders.”
“Cell C wants to consolidate its infrastructure with ours – this is not something you would do in two weeks, it takes time.”
Motsa added that MTN is in discussions with Cell C to extend its roaming agreement into urban areas as well.
Cell C CEO Craigie Douglas Stevenson previously said that the mobile operator was looking to completely move its network to MTN and function similarly to a high-level mobile network virtual operator (MVNO).
Craigie Stevenson said Cell C is negotiating a new roaming deal with MTN which will see it carry all of Cell C’s traffic.
This new roaming agreement will also see Cell C hand all of its towers over to MTN, which means it will no longer run its own network.
This will remove the need for Cell C to invest billions in its network and allow it to use this money for operational expenses.
Running an MVNO-like network on another operator’s infrastructure is an effective way to cut down on expenses – something which Cell C is certainly looking to accomplish.
Speaking about the benefits of infrastructure sharing, Motsa highlighted the following advantages of this practice:
- Reduced capital and operating expenditure
- Lower barriers to entry, which allows for increased competition
- Lower asset duplication
- Expansion of network and coverage
- Lower service prices
- Reduced environmental impact
“By opening our infrastructure and allowing other MNOs to roam on the best network in the country, we are able to stimulate competition and reduce prices,” Motsa said.
“We are open for business for MNOs and MVNOs. We have MNOs on our network, and we are also certainly open to MVNOs.”
Motsa stated that all of these factors lead to an increase in connectivity and adoption by consumers, which results in vast economic and social benefits.
Impressive growth and Mobile Money
MTN’s network has grown impressively in South Africa, and the mobile operator has now reached 95% 4G coverage across the country.
Motsa said this expansion has been accomplished as MTN has steadily lowered the cost to communicate on its network.
“This year we achieved a significant milestone with 95% 4G coverage in South Africa,” Motsa said. “This is in spite of us not having 4G spectrum.”
He added that MTN has more than tripled its number of 4G sites in the last five years. Despite this growth in newer technologies, Motsa said MTN is not planning to discontinue its 2G network, stating that it was still building this infrastructure.
Motsa said that looking forward, the operator was prepared to implement 5G – it just needs the required spectrum for the technology.
“Everything at MTN SA is ready for 5G, the only thing we don’t have is the spectrum,” Motsa said. “We haven’t got new spectrum at MTN for 14 years – the issuance of spectrum is long overdue.”
Motsa added that MTN South Africa sees great growth opportunities in the country, including in the fintech space.
“This quarter, we are going to launch Mobile Money (MoMo) in South Africa,” Motsa said.
He said there are 17 million people who are unbanked or underbanked in the country, and he is confident that MTN will get MoMo right in South Africa when it launches this year.