What new ICT solutions are you planning to roll out across the country?
Charles Molapisi MTN Zambia is the only mobile operator to offer both 3G and 4G technology on a large scale. We have strong coverage in terms of LTE 4G network, excellent 3G coverage, and metro fiber. In Lusaka, our metro fiber runs right through the city, which allows us to connect enterprises and corporations and easily bring them onto the network. We have also invested in the normal fiber backbone, which comprises about 2,000km of fiber from Lusaka to the Tanzania border. This enables us to provide services to homes across the country. In terms of working with other industries, we have developed platforms to share music across the country, and we have also emphasized developing online and mobile entertainment packages. Our mobile money products are doing very well in the Zambian market, and we are looking to link up with insurance and financial services companies to make these kinds of things widely available via our network.
Sydney Mupeta In the short term, we intend to recover the fixed customer numbers we have lost. The kind of challenges we faced related to theft of copper cables resulted in the loss of a large chunk of fixed customers. The intention in the short term is to first address those existing customers who have been affected by copper cable theft, and then grow our fixed network to areas where we could not take it before, using fixed wireless. We are rolling out mobile and fixed wireless coverage across the country with over 1,000 sites, a project that should begin by mid-2017. As part of the project, we have deployed our first 18 LTE2300 Sites (LTE operating in the 2,30 MHz Band) in the Copperbelt, while the rest of the 172 sites will come with the main project. Here we are talking about 4.5G with shared throughput per cell of 250Mbps, and this sort of capacity can easily accommodate 300 customers simultaneously per site with a guarantee of at least 2Mbps. As part of the same rollout, we are also looking at another fixed wireless solution, targeting areas that are sparsely populated.
Does MTN also work with large corporations?
CM MTN Zambia's rich portfolio of solutions is the key differentiator between MTN and all the other industry players on the market. Along with our voice and Mobile Data offerings, MTN continues to deliver a rich range of cutting-edge products. In 2016 alone MTN Zambia launched: its 4G Home internet solution, now enjoyed by over 10,000 dwellings; global MPLS, which can now provide you with connectivity to over 150 countries globally and every town in Zambia; and APN/VPN, which provides secure branch-to-branch or device-to-device connectivity for your office WAN connectivity. MTN is now the partner of choice and is delivering the APN/VPN service to over 300 corporations in banking, mining, agriculture and other industry verticals nationwide. Through our machine-to-machine product offering we now have over 6,000 POS SIMs in the market and over 3,000 independently tracked moveable assets. The MTN Zambia cloud offering has over 120 specialized software services that include Microsoft 365, Cloud IVR, and backup/hosting to name a few. Through our mobile advertising and bulk SMS solution, MTN Zambia provides its customers with access to a massive market place at the click of a button. Through Mobile Money we can offer bulk payment solutions, automated collection services, and swift real-time cash transfer both nationally and internationally.
How do you differentiate yourselves from the competition?
SM The only real differentiation we can have is the quality of service. In a highly competitive market, where the competition is still playing out based on pricing, what is important is how attractive your service offering is. One of the most phenomenal shifts in communication technologies is the focus on data that is currently occurring in Zambia. In the past four or five months, our data has grown from about 4.5TB to about 13TB of data. Of course, this sort of traffic growth starts to impact your network, causing a serious strain, and we saw this playing out in terms of network quality deterioration. Because of this, we have been constantly on the lookout for expansion to maintain our network quality, which obviously correlates negatively with increasing traffic. We have an active team constantly monitoring quality of service and addressing quality issues to try and mitigate the impact on end-user experience. At first, to keep up with traffic, we started with adding all the resources we could to 3G, such as multiple carriers, but ultimately as the traffic becomes more than we can support, we will soon be scaling up to 4G even for mobile.