MTN spends R1bn on World Cup

Johannesburg – SA mobile giant will MTN [JSE:MTN] has spent an estimated R1bn on the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The company has disclosed it spent just short of half a billion rand on infrastructure to cater for additional demands on its network during the soccer tournament.

Added to other expenditure on the event, this brings the company's total World Cup spending to just over R1bn, according to Fin24.com's estimates.

MTN chief technology officer Sameer Dave said that additional infrastructure will focus on areas of high activity during the tournament, and will be redeployed after the event.

"The additional capacity will be spread out through South Africa as part of our 'plug and play' stadium infrastructure," said Dave.

“But not everyone will be caught up in the World Cup and we have ring-fenced the capacity according to FIFA requirements, ensuring it is business as usual for the rest of South Africans going about their normal daily lives," he said.

Dave explained that the equipment being used was specialised and more than sufficient for capacity requirements. "The MTN installation at Soccer City, which is the biggest, contains almost 6km of optic fibre and approximately 10km of radio feeder," he said.

"And there are 348 antennae installed throughout the stadium to ensure even and seamless coverage. A radio system such as this one comes at a price, however, and our investment in the system at Soccer City alone has cost us in excess of R25m to design and install. Similar systems, but on a smaller scale, have been installed at each of the other nine stadiums," said Dave.

Rica registration no trouble for tourists

Infrastructure has also been deployed at airports for use during the World Cup period.

Dave said the upgrades were already completed by December 2009, and had been based on what was learnt from the 2006 World Cup and Euro 2007 tournaments.

The 2009 Confederations Cup in South Africa also allowed MTN to test its capacity for such an event, and Dave said the network had handled the increased demand around stadiums competently.

The additional infrastructure spending is part of a planned R4.1bn MTN plans to spend on its South African network in 2010.

MTN has also spent R28m on its Ayoba advertising campaign designed for the World Cup. The cost of actually sponsoring the event amounted to $65m, which made MTN the first African company ever to be a premier sponsor of a FIFA World Cup.

This includes branding and other activities at fan parks dotted throughout South Africa for the event, as well as other marketing initiatives.

MTN said it would also cater for tourists who wish to connect to the network during their visit with help desks where they can obtain SIM cards and comply with the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (Rica), which requires cellphone customers to be registered with their network provider.

Rica registration can be done with just a passport to be presented at a participating MTN outlet.

- Fin24.com

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