MTN 3G coverage update

MTN announced during a press briefing held at its headquarters in Roodepoort today (25 September 2012) that it has rolled out 204 new 2G sites and 696 new 3G sites in 2012 thus far.

This translates to an increase in the population coverage of their 3G network from 44% to close to 65%, MTN chief technology officer, Kanagaratnam Lambotharan told journalists.

In its financial results reporting for the period up to 30 June 2012, MTN said that its 3G population coverage was 56%. This suggests that MTN has increased its 3G population coverage by 9 percentage points in just under three months.

EDGE coverage has been extended from 78% to 92%, Lambotharan said, while MTN’s 2G network now services 98.6% of South Africa’s population, covering 79.2% of the land.

Looking at just the number of 2G sites (6,772) there has been no change since MTN’s last financial results.

Kanagaratnam Lambotharan
Kanagaratnam Lambotharan

Lambotharan said that they have around 800 sites with HSPA+ coverage. He explained that the speed at which they roll out HSPA is related to how quickly they can roll out fibre to the sites they want to upgrade.

They are able to switch on the HSPA+ at a site within weeks of rolling out fibre to it, Lambotharan said.

As MTN improved its coverage and capacity, Lambotharan said, they have also noticed an increase in data usage on the network.

In the last 12 months there has been a 200% increase in 2G and 3G data on MTN. According to Lambotharan this has to do not just with increased capacity and coverage, but also in the larger amount of data-enabled devices they’re seeing.

The table below shows the number of new base transceiver stations (BTS) that have been rolled out and upgraded:

Sites 2011 (H1+H2) 2012 (to date) Cumulative
2G 314 204 6772
U900 3G 110 217 317
U2100 3G 488 379 3534
BTS modernisation >1000 >1300 >2800
BTS connected by fibre 517 >550 >1067

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MTN 3G coverage update