MTN announces Bloemfontein LTE service

2013-11-05 14:20
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Mobile operator MTN announced on Tuesday that it had launched higher speed Long Term Evolution in Bloemfontein as part of a national rollout.

Data consumption in SA has emerged as a key driver of revenue for operators and LTE is expected to significantly improve the user experience of mobile internet.

"Data traffic continues to grow exponentially, led by video and users want to be connected to content and friends, everywhere and always, expecting perfect quality, zero latency, and limitless speed with zero costs," said Eben Albertyn, chief technology officer at MTN SA.

Vodacom and MTN were first to launch LTE services in SA, and though there is a shortage of spectrum, the strategy of recycling spectrum has seen penetration in some areas.

Generally, LTE is available in the metropolitan areas of the country, and the GSMA has urged the government to accelerate the allocation of spectrum.


One of the hurdles in the provision of LTE spectrum has been the delay in SA moving toward Digital Terrestrial Television. Analogue free to air TV occupies some of the frequency required for LTE to become universally available.

"There're policy makers and there're politicians. Politicians love to say things like 'South Africa will have the analogue digital transition by 2012'. They love to make these pronouncements - ambitious terms - but not necessarily backed up by reality," Peter Lyons GSMA director for spectrum policy in Africa and the Middle East told News24 recently.

In developed markets like Japan, the smartphone penetration of 76% has resulted in a mobile internet revolution that has seen operators like NTT Docomo being able to offer a range of rich media services and mobile payment solutions on mobile devices.

Japan eliminated 2G networks in 2011, and LTE connections already make up nearly a quarter of national coverage.

MTN said that it was focused on delivering a quality network.

"The deployment of LTE in this region is part of MTN SA's strategy to invest in better and faster networks, making our customers’ lives a whole lot brighter by providing them with technology that gives seamless experience," said Albertyn.

SA risks falling further behind developed markets. In South Korea, 43% of mobile users already consume rich media like video streaming on smartphones where there is a 51% penetration of LTE.

While LTE is widely regarded as a data only network, operators like NTT Docomo are investigating the potential rollout of VOLTE (Voice Over LTE), thereby eliminating the need for 3G fallback.

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Read more on:    mtn  |  mobile  |  broadband
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