MTN South Africa, the country’s second-biggest mobile phone operator by subscribers, announced on Thursday that it has reached 95% 4G coverage across the country.

The company disclosed this in a statement celebrating 25 years of “keeping the people of South Africa connected and having a positive impact on their lives”.

Looking back to 1994, the company hosted the first-ever call on its network when there were just four million landlines in South Africa and only 1% of black South Africans owned a phone.

Just ten years later, MTN had signed up 10 million subscribers, with penetration into rural areas and across Africa picking up significant speed. A look a little further into the future – in 2009 – and MTN celebrated the connection of its 100th million subscriber.

While a number of significant milestones have been achieved over the years, MTN SA CEO Godfrey Motsa has much bigger plans for the future, connecting the unconnected to a world of digital possibility.

“We are very proud to be part of an industry that can genuinely change lives for the better. The idea that it is within our hands to offer everyone the benefit of modern connected life, is incredibly motivating, which is why we’ve worked to create a network that can actually deliver on high aspirations,” he said.

“Our network is constantly evolving to handle increased demand and functionality. Digital access, that can drive financial inclusion, empowering and enabling SMEs, jobs growth and broad community development, among many others.”

Motsa points out that with South Africa in dire need of growth and jobs, MTN’s focus has turned firmly towards growing data, FinTech and digital businesses.

“We now have a number of exciting plans to help businesses truly harness the power of the digital economy. Nothing could be more important for SA, as jobs will only be sparked through business success,” says Motsa.

Today, as companies and organisations prepare to embrace the fourth industrial revolution, MTN is ready to deliver on a number of fronts, like the delivery of next-generation mobile broadband, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Cloud solutions.  It has invested more than R40 billion over the past four years to improve network coverage and quality to support the connectivity requirements of its customers.

MTN’s IoT solutions focus on making it easy to connect to many devices so that key data can be harnessed to maximise outcomes and opportunities. Innovation in this space has helped curb stock theft and fight back in the battle against rhino poaching by harnessing mobile solutions to track the movement of animals.

Expanding Reach into Rural Areas

MTN continues to deliver high-capacity 4G in cities, having just reached 95% 4G coverage across South Africa, and broad 3G coverage in rural areas. As many new data customers will be in rural areas, MTN has focused heavily on both extending connectivity reach, while also transforming pricing methodology to adapt to the changing and growing markets it seeks to serve.

MTN SA’s microwave link network now serves well over 70% of businesses, while the fibre to the business (FTTB) network spans over 18,000 kilometres and has a capacity to serve over 30% of the business community. In addition, MTN SA has eight data centres and 30 regional data centres.

“Our network modernisation programme has come at the perfect time. It will enable clients to extend their computer networks over large distances and to connect remote branch offices to data centres and each other and to deliver the applications and services required to boost functionality,” says Motsa.

“Our network is future-ready as we look forward to the next 25 years as SA’s best and most trusted network. We plan to roll out new digital business models to make sure value creation is shared and the benefits of the digital economy truly uplift and benefit many more lives.”

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