South Africa’s notorious load-shedding issue doesn’t seem to faze MTN. With a fresh investment wave, MTN is giving power cuts the cold shoulder, deploying a remarkable 20,000 batteries to keep its base stations running.
The Billion-Rand Pledge
Amidst the load-shedding turbulence, MTN’s announced their massive financial commitment of between R4.5 and R5 billion to fortify their network. And they’ve been making good on that promise: their latest scorecard boasts “more than 20,000 batteries, 5,000 rectifiers, and 900 generators” spread across the nation.
Eskom vs. Telcos: The Power Struggle
The Eskom-induced blackouts haven’t been kind to anyone, least of all to the telecom giants. These power woes are more than just a nuisance; they’re major disruptors affecting network quality. The telcos’ wallets are feeling the pinch, as they are forced to pump in billions to combat the outages.
But there’s another sinister side effect. Power cuts seem to be the thief’s best friend. With the blanket of darkness aiding them, vandals increasingly target base stations.
A Year in Review: Power Play
Fast forward to May this year, and the comparison is stark. The load-shedding levels shot up to stages five and six, whereas 2022 never went beyond stage three in the same timeframe.
Charles Molapisi, MTN SA’s CEO, delved into the issue: “While there was a brief respite in the second quarter of 2023 with a reduction in load-shedding compared to the first quarter, power outages continued to pose a significant challenge to our operations.”
Molapisi threw some numbers into the mix:
“During the first half of 2022, there were 68 days with load-shedding, but this figure nearly tripled to 181 days in that same period this year.”
Battling Darkness and Crime
Criminals, unfortunately, don’t need an invitation. Darkness, thanks to load-shedding, seems good enough. Molapisi voiced concerns about the increasing vulnerability of cellphone towers. He remarked, “the criminal activity continues to inflict deteriorated network experiences on our valued customers.”
But there’s hope, Molapisi adds:
“But looking at recent figures, we are seeing a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.”
Marching Forward: Network Resilience
Determined not to buckle under power pressures, MTN and its allies are working around the clock, literally seven days a week, to ensure uninterrupted connectivity. And the results are showing.
August saw around 2,000 site enhancements, with more than 5,000 sites upgraded to date. A testament to their efforts, MTN registered a 15% spike in network availability in 2023.
These improvements are part of a broader national resilience program spanning major regions. From battery upgrades to security measures, MTN is leaving no stone unturned.
“It’s an ongoing battle, but one that we’re committed to winning… to ensure that all can share in the benefits of a modern connected life”, Molapisi concluded. And for South Africans, this commitment spells hope amidst ongoing challenges.