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MTN celebrates 25 years of enhancing lives through superior network connectivity

This month, as MTN celebrates 25 years of keeping the people of South Africa connected and having a positive impact on their lives, it is also proud to announce it has reached 95% 4G coverage across South Africa - giving almost all of South Africa access to new and disruptive online services through a global, high-performing network.

As a Pan-African company with roots that are deeply anchored in the continent, MTN is gearing up for an even brighter future driven by an ongoing focus on doing good, sustainable business which extends far beyond corporate social investment initiatives.

MTN is fortunate to have built up a variety of touch points with consumers and trusted partnerships with organisations since 1994 and the company is now ideally placed to ramp up the way it works with various stakeholders to make an impact and brighten lives for our people and nations.

MTN aims to further entrench partnerships with host countries to improve digital access, drive financial inclusion, empower and enable SMEs, create jobs and broad community development, among many others.

Looking back to 1994, the company hosted the first-ever call on its network when there were just four million landlines in South Africa and only 1% of black South Africans owned a phone. Just 10 years later, MTN had signed up 10 million subscribers, with penetration into rural areas and across Africa picking up significant speed. A look a little further into the future - in 2009 - and MTN celebrated the connection of its 100th million subscriber.

While a number of significant milestones have been achieved over the years, MTN SA CEO Godfrey Motsa has much bigger plans for the future, connecting the unconnected to a world of digital possibility.

"This year marks 25 years since the birth of a democratic South Africa and also marks 25 years of consistent innovation and delivery by MTN. We have been privileged to play a leading role in connecting the lives of so many citizens at home and across Africa and our focus is to continue shaping the very best future for all our customers and communities."

We are very proud to be part of an industry that can genuinely change lives for the better. The idea that it is within our hands to offer everyone the benefit of a modern connected life, is incredibly motivating, which is why we've worked to create a network that can actually deliver on high aspirations. Our network is constantly evolving to handle increased demand and functionality. Digital access, that can drive financial inclusion, empowering and enabling SMEs, jobs growth and broad community development, among many others," says Motsa.

What is clear is that since inception 25 years ago MTN has been a significant contributor to the economies and communities within which it operates. A lot of this has been with respect to the infrastructure that is the backbone of the economies that MTN operates in, and often, that enables connectivity of people in the most remote areas. MTN's operations have also increasingly become a broader part of the economy through varying efforts, including employment creation as well as Mobile Money.

Innovation For Good

When Mobile Money was first launched in 2010, MTN was ranked 7th in the Best 40 Global companies by Business Week. Fast forward to July this year, and MTN was recognised for the third consecutive quarter as the best and fastest network in South Africa in the MyBroadband Mobile Network Quality Report for Q2 2019.

Motsa points out that with South Africa in dire need of growth and jobs, MTN's focus has turned firmly towards growing data, fintech and digital businesses.

"Innovation and being a step ahead are hallmarks of our company. For instance, if you rewind to 2009, MTN had completed the purchase of Verizon SA, merging it with MTN Network Solutions to form MTN Business. As a result of this merger, MTN Business announced it would reduce bandwidth costs to corporate customers by 30%.

"We now have a number of exciting plans to help businesses truly harness the power of the digital economy. Nothing could be more important for SA, as jobs will only be sparked through business success," says Motsa.

In an exciting new development, MTN Group on October 6 formally launched its "We're Good Together" initiative, demonstrating how in partnering with host countries, the company can help change lives. The campaign TVC can be viewed here.

In March 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched YES, a business-led collaboration with government and labour which aims to empower one million young South Africans by offering paid quality work opportunities over the next few years.

In April, MTN Group confirmed its support of YES and committed to the creation of 1000 jobs within the first year of the initiative.

Leading the Charge with 5G

Among recent innovations to ensure SA benefits from the fourth industrial revolution, MTN deployed a trial 5G network in an indoor business environment, with standards-based commercial-grade 5G network equipment and devices.

"Mobile network operators will play a crucial role in providing the infrastructure ecosystem that will enable other industries to harness the benefits of digitisation and implement new-age solutions. MTN SA is therefore committed to provide our subscribers with the best customer experience using the latest in mobile network technologies," says Motsa.

Innovation has always been the key to success at MTN. For instance, in 2011, MTN was the first South African operator to pilot an LTE (4G) network. In 2000, MTN also began building Africa's first fibre optic line, with fibre today being seen as a leading-edge innovation across homes and businesses across the country. In 2006, MTN was one of the top 10 operators worldwide to launch HSDPA 1,8 Mbps.

The company continues to stand proud as a leading provider of solutions which place its customers at the cutting edge. By 1996, for instance, MTN was the first operator to launch pre-paid services in South Africa, opening up the market to make mobile telephony affordable for more people. MTN has managed to consistently reduce the cost to communicate in recent years and earlier this year slashed its out-of-bundle (OOB) data rate by up to 75% for prepaid customers.

SA's Best, Most Trusted Network is 'Future-Ready'

Today, as companies and organisations prepare to embrace the fourth industrial revolution, MTN is ready to deliver on a number of fronts, like the delivery of next-generation mobile broadband, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Cloud solutions. It has invested more than R40 billion over the past four years to improve network coverage and quality to support the connectivity requirements of its customers.

MTN's IoT solutions focus on making it easy to connect to many devices so that key data can be harnessed to maximise outcomes and opportunities. Innovation in this space has helped curb stock theft and fight back in the battle against rhino poaching by harnessing mobile solutions to track the movement of animals.

Meanwhile, MTN Cloud Connect Wireless, launched in 2018, is an example of how technology can provide solutions to problems currently being faced by businesses in SA. By harnessing Point to MultiPoint microwave technology, small offices or remote branches of large enterprises can now achieve efficient, low-cost wireless access. Rural businesses, which will increasingly be the lifeblood of the economy going forward but face immense network constraints, are being given a new lease on life.

Expanding Reach into Rural Areas

MTN continues to deliver high-capacity 4G in cities, having just reached 95% 4G coverage across South Africa, and broad 3G coverage in rural areas. As many new data customers will be in rural areas, MTN has focused heavily on both extending connectivity reach, while also transforming pricing methodology to adapt to the changing and growing markets it seeks to serve.

MTN SA's microwave link network now serves well over 70% of businesses, while the fibre to the business (FTTB) network spans over 18,000 kilometres and has a capacity to serve over 30% of the business community. In addition, MTN SA has eight data centres and 30 regional data centres.

"Our network modernisation programme has come at the perfect time. It will enable clients to extend their computer networks over large distances and to connect remote branch offices to data centres and each other and to deliver the applications and services required to boost functionality. Our network is future-ready as we look forward to the next 25 years as SA's best and most trusted network. We plan to roll out new digital business models to make sure value creation is shared and the benefits of the digital economy truly uplift and benefit many more lives," concludes Motsa.


MTN Group

Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a multinational telecommunications group, operating in 21 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: "MTN".

As at the end of 30 June 2010, MTN recorded 129.2 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. The MTN Group is a global sponsor of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and has exclusive mobile content rights for Africa and the Middle East. Visit and