According to Tech Central, MTN South Africa plans to double the number of 3G base stations in service across the country during the next two years to 6,000, extending wireless broadband access to previously underserved parts of the country. However, in order to do so, the cellco must re-farm a block of pre-existing spectrum in the 900MHz band. Chief technology officer Lambo Kanagaratnam said that MTN hopes to have 150 900MHz 3G base transceiver stations (BTS) in service by the end of 2011, with 900MHz services extended to around 1,000 BTS within the next twelve months. Within two years the operator hopes to cover between 80% and 85% of the South African population with its 3G network. Rural areas earmarked for coverage include: Limpopo, Mpumalanga, the Free State, the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape.
In related news, Kanagaratnam said that the cellco will continue to press ahead with its trials of Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, despite the lack of available frequencies in the country. As such, MTN intends to demonstrate the 4G service – which it piloted in Gauteng in July – in Cape Town at the AfricaCom conference this week.