MTN GM Corporate Affairs Funmi Omogbenigun; CTO Mrs. Lynda Saint-Nwafor; and Corporate Services Executive Akinwale Goodluck

By Kokumo Goodie, Lagos, Nigeria

MTN Nigeria, said it has commenced a comprehensive network modernisation and swap-out exercise that is expected to cover its extensive network across the country over a span of nine months. The exercise will entail upgrading and replacing key network components with newer versions for enhanced capacity and much improved quality of service.

MTN Nigeria Corporate Services Executive, Wale Goodluck, said at a press forum in Lagos that the project had been in the pipeline for several months, during which intensive planning took place.

“Our local team, working closely with our technical partners and experts, began work in April. They have done much of the back end work, preparatory to the actual swapping of network components in the days ahead,” said Goodluck.

He said the massive project involving three technical partners, Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE, would be carried out at night to minimise impact on the quality of service The exercise will be done in clusters, so that select base transceiver stations (BTS) in disparate parts of the country would undergo simultaneous upgrade to further ensure that the negative impact of the exercise is brought to a bare minimum.

He said while there may be slight inconveniences to subscribers in certain areas, especially at night, during the implementation of the project, customers would be ushered into a new era of enhanced service quality upon the completion of the project.

According to him, sporadic network congestion episodes brought on by unusual congregation of subscribers in a particular location as a result of sporting events, religious events or traffic gridlock could be instantly resolved remotely from MTN's network monitoring and management office.

“The network modernisation and swap-out project is part of the USD1.3 billion investment we have earmarked for 2012, and this investment, like many we’ve consistently made since our inception, is in pursuit of world-class quality of service on our network. We are delighted that this project brings us within a grasping distance of the mark”, said Goodluck.

Delving into the details of the project, MTN Chief Technical Officer (CTO), Lynda Saint-Nwafor, said the modernisation and swap-out exercise would affect all aspects of the network from radio to transmission and core network. She said all legacy equipment older than 10 years is being removed and replaced with state-of-the-art equipment, with much better capacity and flexibility.

She added that even the power generation would be improved, as the operator would be swapping existing power systems at most of the sites with hybrid power systems which are environment-friendly. According to her, the company should have about 4000 sites on hybrid power system by the end of the year, up from the current 2000 sites.

Also as part of the massive project, Saint-Nwafor disclosed that a contract had been signed with end-to-end telecommunications solutions provider, Ericsson, to optimise 3000 base transceiver stations across the country. At the end of the exercise, the BTS will operate at peak performance, significantly improving customer experience on the network, she added.

he explained that in some locations, especially where security situation would not allow her team to work at night, there will be temporary service difficulties in the course of swapping equipment and optimising the network. She implored customers in such areas to bear with the company, assuring that such temporary pains would usher in a new era of enjoyable services and thrilling experience.

At the press conference were other top officials of the company, including Funmilayo Omogbenigun, GM, Corporate Affairs, Dr. Victor Oduguwa, GM, Capital Programmes Group (CPG), and David Melaiye, Senior Manager, CPG, among others.

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