MTN buys fibre route from Liquid Telecom


MTN announced on Tuesday that it has has successfully concluded a transaction with Liquid Telecom to purchase almost 400 kilometres of both Long Distance and Metro fibres connecting Pretoria and Polokwane for an undisclosed sum.

The purchase agreement marks a significant milestone in MTN’s self-provisioning strategy and the company’s quest to build its own transmission network, thus further augmenting the operator’s plans of providing its customers with high speed connectivity.

The route forms part of the National Long Distance fibre network, a consortium-led initiative that saw a number of operators in partnership with the South African national Road Agency Limited (SANRAL) trench thousands of kilometres across the country to deploy a terrestrial fibre network connecting Gauteng to both Cape Town and Durban.

This fibre optic route, which was built by Liquid Telecom, supports many hundreds of Gbps of traffic and is scalable to meet future requirements.

Devan Chetty, General Manager of MTN South Africa says MTN’s acquisition of this strategic asset marks a significant step in MTN’s quest to building its own Transmission network while optimising both cost and efficiency.

“Once MTN’s National Long Distance Transmission Network is completed, it will offer significantly larger bandwidth which will considerably increase data transfer speeds for all users; offer lower latency and improved network resilience. This acquisition nudges us closer towards the attainment of our vision of leading the delivery of a bold, new digital world and will go a long way towards making our customers lives a whole lot brighter,” says Chetty.

Liquid Telecom was valued at more than R8.4 billion ($640 million) in January 2014 when Econet bought 8.6% stake in the business for $55 million.

“We are pleased to have worked with a like-minded organisation such as MTN on this deal. The transaction represents a meeting of minds and reflects the shared values of both Liquid Telecom and MTN. We hope that this deal heralds future cooperation in this space that will be underpinned by a common desire to provide our customers with an improved experience,” says Willem Marais, CEO of Liquid Telecoms.

Adds Chetty: “The quality of the output is indicative of the depth of technical skills that MTN and Liquid Telecom have and we are pleased to have partnered with them on this critical venture.”

Chetty says that MTN will continue to be aggressive in exploring opportunities for deploying its network, be it terrestrial, fibre or undersea. Last year, MTN announced that it has joined the African Coast to Europe (ACE) submarine cable consortium, making it the only operator in South Africa to be part of ACE which is planned to connect 23 countries.

“Our current priority however, is to connect Cape Town to Durban via East London. This will further enhance our National Transmission Network and reduce our operational expenditure for capacity from 3rd party suppliers. This will provide full end-to-end resilience for transmission connectivity to and between all of the undersea cable systems which land on both the East and West coastlines.”


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