In preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the MTN Group has contracted a South African-based network optimization firm, Arieso, to implement a major expansion project worth about US$676 million.
This is to ensure a congestion-free network, seamless phones and internet access, particularly in the selected stadia during the tournament, a statement copied to the GNA said.
The statement quoted Mr Sameer Dave, Chief Technology Officer of MTN SA as saying that, MTN’s partnership with Arieso had enabled MTN to determine accurately, which geographic areas needed the most attention, to ensure that the network coverage was up to speed to handle the expected demand for both voice and data services during the tournament.
Mr Sameer acknowledged that as Africa's first global sponsor of the FIFA World Cup, MTN had a responsibility to ensure that the network provided a seamless service to the current customers, and the thousands of international visitors expected in South Africa next year for the World Cup.
“Arieso has assessed subscriber generated network data to determine exactly where coverage needed improvement,” he said. Mr Sameer noted that for this project, Arieso analysed two week's worth of data from MTN's network and assessed the traffic density, coverage, interference and pilot pollution to determine which geographic areas of the network would benefit most from additional investment.
The data was collected in mid June, a period that included two major sporting events with the British Lions rugby tour and the FIFA Confederations Cup - a perfect data sample ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Through a special technology dubbed AriesoGEO, the company was able to pinpoint exactly where to channel improvements, without the need for expensive and inaccurate drive testing. “The information will be used to improve mobile broadband coverage country-wide and reduce the number of dropped calls in the network,” he said.
Mr Zolisa Masiza, Group Executive of MTN in charge of Regulatory Matters recently told the GNA in Cape Town that MTN was also working with the organizers of the Highway Conference to ensure the MTN network was efficient to enable journalists to file their stories easily from the various stadia via phone and the internet.
Mr Thaigan Govender, General Manager of Radio Network Planning and Optimisation of MTN SA also noted that with many thousands of roaming users set to arrive for the World Cup, MTN could assure the world that its network would run at the peak of its capabilities.
In Ghana, Mr George Andah, Chief Marketing Officer of MTN Ghana, told the GNA that the MTN network was in a state of readiness in anticipation of the FIFA 2010 World Cup, adding “we can’t wait.” Early this year, the MTN group released a statement assuring the world of its readiness for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The statement said MTN had set up equipment rooms at the selected stadia, outfitted with dedicated equipment that operated on Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), utilising fibre to distribute the radio network. The system had been designed so that match-goers, journalists and residents of communities around designated stadia were guaranteed of coverage in and around the stadium area at any given time.
Support staff will also be on hand at each stadium to provide timely assistance in the event that it is needed. “OR Tambo and Cape Town international airports have recently undergone network upgrades to ensure that when visitors arrive at the airports, they are immediately connected via voice, data or SMS,” it said.
Some 30 million people around the world are expected to watch the 2010 FIFA World Cup, slated for June next year, out of which about 1.5 million are expected to be watching in the designated stadia in South Africa.
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