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Connect the Unconnected: MTN Sets Ambitious Goal for 95% Broadband Coverage by 2025

Connect the Unconnected: MTN Sets Ambitious Goal for 95% Broadband Coverage by 2025.

MTN said it is targeting 95 per cent broadband population coverage across its footprint by 2025, from 88 per cent in 2022.

This is even as the telecom operator is seeking partnership  with several satellite services providers including Elon Musk’s Starlink, in its bid to achieve its broadband target.

In a news release made available to LEADERSHIP, MTN revealed that enterprise-grade trials for SpaceX’s Starlink are now taking place in Rwanda and Nigeria. Furthermore, MTN stated that a number of projects are in progress, such as impending direct-to-cell testing in Ghana and South Africa with Lynk Global.

Additionally, the business is in talks with suppliers such as AST SpaceMobile regarding testing in South Sudan and Nigeria.

MTN group chief technology and information officer Mazen Mroué, said: “At MTN, we are inspired by our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life. We are driven to deliver on our Ambition 2025 strategic intent of ‘Leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress’.

“Time is of the essence, so we recognise that we cannot do it alone. Partnerships are essential. In recent years we have helped narrow coverage gaps in rural areas by collaborating with several rollout partners and by deploying new technology using OpenRAN.

“To complement our terrestrial network – where the terrain can be difficult for radio sites and backhaul transport and sparse population distribution often makes regular cellular rollout uneconomical – we are now exploring the skies. Specifically, we are partnering for low earth orbit (LEO) satellite connectivity to connect the unconnected, extend mobile connectivity to more rural and remote areas and improve resilience. “

The CTO added that, these partnerships would help the company achieve its goal of 95 per cent broadband population coverage across its footprint by 2025, from 88 per cent in 2022; in the longer term, MTN said it would be able to achieve universal access.

Highlighting the inherent advantages of satellites to MTN’s service delivery, Mroué said:  “LEO satellites typically orbit the Earth at altitudes of between 160 and 2,000 km, making for shorter orbital periods (of between 90 minutes and a few hours) which is good for applications that need rapid data communication or frequent re-visits of specific areas.

“The lower altitude contributes to lower signal travel times, resulting in lower latency. This is crucial for real-time communication, video conferencing and online gaming. And the sharp fall in the cost of launching 1kg of payload into space (from US$85 000 in the 1980s to around US$1 000 now) has added to the attractiveness of using LEO satellites.”

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