MTC to introduce smartphones for rural people

03 Feb 2016 18:10pm
WINDHOEK, 03 FEB (NAMPA) – Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) has embarked on a three-year project to introduce three generation (3G) smartphones to rural communities at subsidised prices.
Speaking at a media briefing on Wednesday, MTC's Chief Human Capital and Corporate Affairs Officer Tim Ekandjo said MTC is working closely with smartphone vendors to introduce good and affordable 3G smartphones for use by residents of rural area.
He said the smartphones will be sold at about N.dollars 400 and will contain same features like other smartphones in the world.
Ekandjo said the N.dollars 1 billion project has started last year, and includes increasing network capacity in most congested urban areas.
He stressed that MTC has identified eight 3G sites in the northern parts of the country; 10 sites in Swakopmund and Walvis Bay; and 10 sites in Windhoek.
“This will allow our customers to use their phones for more than just making voice calls and sending a short message service (SMS), but allows them to actively participate in the digital world and taking advantage of such of opportunities,” he said.
Ekandjo noted that by the completion of the project in 2017, about 20 sites for 2G in rural areas; 331 sites for 3G of which 144 sites in rural areas and 187 sites in urban areas will be covered.
The 4G sites will increase to 116 in urban areas.
He said the company will achieve 98 per cent on 2G coverage of the entire population; 3G would have grown from 30 per cent to 64 per cent, while 4G would have grown from 15 per cent to 30 per cent.
Ekandjo said MTC requires only 5 megahertz (MHz) of 900MHz spectrum to roll out 3G in the rural areas and 5MHz for expanding 3G in urban areas.
However, he noted that this tremendous investment from MTC will be affected if the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia
(Cran) do not allocate the company with the required spectrum needed to roll out the 3G network in rural areas.
Ekandjo explained that if the spectrum is granted to MTC, this will bring MTC's total spectrum allocation to 73MHz which will still be lower than that of Telecom Namibia and Paratus.
Telecom Namibia has 131 MHz spectrum, Paratus 80MHz, while 90MHz spectrum is not yet allocated.
The MTC official said the two entities (MTC and Cran) have been in discussions about the need for additional spectrum and as a result these discussions and spectrum were gazetted on 24 October 2015 without any objection from the public.
Based on this development, Ekandjo said MTC's Board of Directors committed significant investments to this project, however, they have not received spectrum yet because Cran has not made a decision to allocate the two additional spectrums.
“We are very concerned that this project and our investment which is aimed at rural ICT development will go to waste if we do not receive the required spectrum soon,” he said.
Approached for comment, Cran's Head of Communications and External Relations, Katrina Sikeni was not ready to respond on the issue Wednesday.
“We are in the process of responding to your questions and will revert with a reply tomorrow morning,” she said.