African markets prepare for LTE data surge

26 Jun 2013 11:43


Amsterdam – Netherlands –  The data market in Africa is forecast to see double-digit growth, and as competition intensifies amongst operators on the continent it has never been more important to be ahead of the game.

With mobile subscriptions set to reach 1.13 billion by 2017 in Africa. 

LTE will play a crucial role in this huge growth market, this sentiments form part of Namibia’s’ Premier and leading network operator Mobile Telecommunications Limited intervention by Miguel Geraldes at the ongoing LTE World Summit in Netherlands                 

Managing Director of MTC, Miguel Geraldes, took the stage at the 2013 LTE World Summit on day one where he spoke on how African markets are preparing for the LTE data surge.

Geraldes was invited to speak at the 2013 LTE World Summit by Informa because of MTC’s incredible success with having successfully implemented LTE/4G second in Africa.

The LTE world summit was held in Amsterdam, Netherlands from 24th June to 26th June 2013.

The LTE World Summit is undoubtedly the worlds LTE series flagship event which provided a unique opportunity to meet and network with leaders in the global LTE community.

The LTE world summit is recognized by the entire industry as THE place to learn from and meet key decision makers and though leaders bringing together over 3000 attendees, 125 exhibitors and 250 speakers.

Speaking at the Summit, Geraldes shared critical statistics on Namibia’s mobile penetration rate, competition in Namibia’s mobile market and MTC’s stable market share. Emphasizing the importance of LTE, Geraldes informed the Summit that LTE is not a Yes or a No but rather a When because as a mobile operator you cannot afford not to introduce LTE if you wish to remain competitive.

With the new trend where customers now use smartphones and tablets on the go, at home, at work and everywhere they go with different applications on simultaneously, the demand for data has increased dramatically because all of those devices compete for the same limited radio resources.

Geraldes said that we knew that 3G was not future proof, i.e. it was not built to cater for multi devices and that is why we strategically prepared ourselves to launch LTE/4G with our participation in the WACS and replacing our backhauls  

Geraldes also took the opportunity to explain how MTC managed to become the 2nd operator in Africa to have successfully introduced 4G LTE and how it managed to roll it out country-wide in less than 1 year.

“We followed a very pragmatic approach as part of our strategy which started with defining our Capex, we than selected the Nodeb where fibre was available, than listed the most used terabytes Nodeb (3G sites) and we finally mapped it geographically and made the last adjustments.

We successfully managed to introduce 4G LTE to the market using our well known and loved Netman 4G sub-brand which speaks volumes about our internet speed” Geraldes said.

 The audience was wowed with the Netman 4G TV commercial which also took 2st place at the 5th Annual Africacom 2012 Awards for the Best Marketing Campaign. Geraldes explained that while MTC’s Netman 3G had a maximum speed of up to 21.6 Mbps which was considered super-fast a few years ago, Netman 4G now provides more than 5 times more speed than its Netman 3G with maximum speeds of up to 100Mbps. 

Customers always wanted to know whether 4G will be more expensive than 3G and if so how much more expensive but customers are always willing to pay a reasonable premium price if the service is good and reliable, because they are interested in convenience and not the technology, he said.

Our next challenge was to accelerate the migration of 3G customers to 4G customers because 10% of our 3G users generated about 50% of the usage on our network. In order to accelerate this smooth transition we offered our 3G customers free migration to our 4G packages, a 3 months special with the same prices as 3G and only after 3 months did we introduce the premium price increase on our 4G packages.

“What was incredible though was that our 4G reached the same usage in only 10 months that took our 3G almost 4 ½ years to process in terms of data”, Geraldes said. While our data revenues and usage have grown incredibly over the last 2 years, and 4GLTE already generated 1/3 of the data processed, we want to push it more so that it reaches close to 50% in the next 12 months and this we want to achieve by pushing more LTE smartphones in the market.

In summary, Miguel explained that 4G/LTE is a MUST have because 3G have its shortcomings, MTC has successfully rolled out 4G/LTE to all major towns in Namibia and will now concentrate on covering rural areas to ensure that ICT is accessible to those in rural areas as well, and the key ingredient of a successful roll out is a powerful marketing brand.

4G/LTE now processes over 1/3 of MTC’s total data   

The 2013 LTE World Summit officially closes on the 26th June and over 97 out of the world’s top 100 operators attended last year