MTN launches SA LTE pilot

MTN says it is the first operator in Africa to launch a large-scale LTE pilot.

MTN launched the Long Term Evolution (LTE) pilot in five clusters around the South African province of Gauteng today. It says the move will revolutionise the provisioning of broadband services in South Africa.

The LTE rollout and pilot test, which MTN is undertaking in partnership with Huawei and Ericsson, will see selected MTN customers with provisioned dongles reaping the benefits of navigating on an ultra-high speed network that boasts speeds of up to 70Mbps across over 100 sites

This translates into an enhanced overall experience and a lighting quick PING Time.

Activation of the 100+ LTE sites will be done in phases and all the sites are expected to be live within the next months.

MTN expects to make this new generation network commercially available throughout the country within the next two to three years once the regulator allocates the required spectrum to enable a national rollout.

Kanagaratnam Lambotharan, MTN South Africa CTO, said: “The pilot launch will give our customers a glimpse of what the future looks like. Being the first operator in Africa to launch a LTE pilot network of this scale is a reaffirmation of MTN’s vision to be the leading telecoms operator in emerging markets and emphasises our technology and innovation leadership in mobile communications.

“Our technical teams and partners have been working at full throttle to ensure that we have the technology on the ground that will take customer experience to the next level. We are confident that the pilot will give us sufficient time and opportunity to fine tune the technology and deal with whatever teething challenges we might encounter. We hope that with this initiative our subscribers can optimally tap into future services and applications that the LTE ecosystem is expected to provide,” says Kanagaratnam.

The pilot will run on 10Mhz of refarmed 1800 MHz spectrum and boasts speeds 70Mbps and a latency of under 15ms. The speed is almost twice faster than what is currently available on the market.

Kanagaratnam adds that MTN’s early pilot of a significantly sized LTE network in areas of high traffic will give MTN the ability to gain better knowledge and experience about the deployment of the LTE technology ahead of its competitors.

“Full deployment of LTE in future will allow MTN to maximize its infrastructure investment to provide its subscribers with a quality experience that is richer, faster and with significantly more capacity than that provided currently,” Kanagaratnam explains.

Ryan Gould, MTN South Africa General Manager: Brand and Communications, adds that the pilot and ultimately the full rollout of LTE network in the future will not only help MTN to improve brand equity, but is an investment in the future that will enhance shareholder value.

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