South African cellco MTN has announced that it invested in excess of ZAR7.1 billion (USD928.9 million) in the expansion of its mobile data networks as it prepares for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, MyBroadband.co.za reports, citing company CTO Sameer Dave. In 2009 496 2G sites were activated, together with 659 3G sites, providing around 50% of the population with third generation network coverage. Part of the investment has also seen MTN complete the coverage upgrades at all of the FIFA 2010 stadiums around the country. The network upgrades have already passed an early test as mobile data traffic jumped by an unprecedented 75% between 25 December 2009 and 1 January 2010, compared to the same period a year earlier. MTN stated: ‘MTN SA added 540 HSPA sites in 2009. This additional capacity led to enhanced subscriber experience with respect to data speeds during the period of extraordinary expansion.’ Dave added: ‘As we move into our final implementation stages for the 2010 World Cup, it is encouraging to note that, having handled the increase in traffic over the festive season, the network is ready to process the huge volume increase in both voice and data traffic that we are anticipating during the event. Our investment in the upgrading of our network is finally paying off.’
MTN also revealed that its fibre deployments are progressing well, claiming that the national long-distance fibre network between Johannesburg and Durban has 217km trenched, while the development of two fibre rings in Gauteng is nearing completion with a commercial launch scheduled for May 2010.