The cost of mobile data in South Africa could plummet if key spectrum is released, says Godfrey Motsa, CEO of MTN SA.
“1GB of data can cost R50 tomorrow if the currently dormant 2600MHz spectrum is released immediately,” he said at the recent MyBroadband Conference in Midrand. “Data prices will also drop in bigger quantums if this is made available.”
He said that the mobile industry cannot continue to subsidise the spectrum crunch, which negatively impacts on the poorest members of society.
He stressed that the democratisation of the internet, which includes improved coverage, reduced prices, relevant digital content, and enhanced customer experience, should not be the sole burden of mobile operators.
“We cannot do this alone. The implementation of a well-considered and reasonable policy and regulation framework is the stimulus that will ignite the further dynamic development of the South African telecommunications space. Our commitment is to continue to lead from the front – working to serve our customers to meet their unique needs.”
Regarding future prospects for MTN customers, Motsa promised the market that MTN would be introducing some exciting propositions in the data space before the end of 2017.
He pointed out that the digital revolution spearheaded by mobile operators has facilitated access to voice connectivity for millions of South Africans. MTN, he said, plans to build on this enhanced connectivity by ensuring that 4G coverage permeates the length and breadth of the country.
Over the past three years, the company has invested over R33 billion to improve network capacity and coverage. It has ramped up its number of physical network sites from 6 900 in 2011 to 11 199 in 2017. During the same period, MTN increased the number of 3G sites from 4 750 sites to 10 426, while LTE sites were augmented from 325 to 7 724 sites for the same period.
“In our bid to bring connectivity to all South Africans, and meet government’s 2020 ICT Vision, every MTN 2G site, which covers over 99% of the population, will have 3G coverage, and every 3G site will have 4G capability by the end of 2018. This will assist in leveling the playing field for all.
We continue to subsidise smart devices to facilitate access to the internet by customers who are least able to afford it. Our substantial infrastructure investment has delivered the very best network for our customers and we continue reducing our pricing.”
While acknowledging that some strides have been made in facilitating access to high frequency spectrum, he said that more needs to be done by the regulators to speed up the allocation of the 2600MHz frequency band.