MTN South Africa has deployed 20 000 batteries and nearly 900 generators into its network as it moves to deal with the negative impact of higher levels of load shedding.
The company, which said previously it would invest between R4.5-billion and R5-billion protecting its network from an erratic power supply from state-owned Eskom, warned, however, that crime and vandalism remain serious issues that are affecting its ability to deliver always-on services.
“While there was a brief respite in the second quarter of 2023 with a reduction in load shedding compared to the first quarter, power outages continued to pose a significant challenge to our operations,” said MTN South Africa CEO Charles Molapisi in a statement.
“During the first half of 2022, there were 68 days with load shedding, but this figure nearly tripled to 181 days in that same period this year,” he added.
Adding to the complexities of managing a mobile network in South Africa in 2023 is the fact that criminals continue to attack infrastructure, stripping base stations of metals, batteries and other items that can be resold or sold for scrap.
“The equipment installed at these cellphone towers, including copper cables, batteries, air conditioners and generators, is highly coveted by criminals, who inflict significant damage on network infrastructure, leading to tower malfunctions and disruptions,” Molapisi said.
“While we are doing well on all fronts in shoring up our network resilience during periods of load shedding, and particularly during the higher stages, the criminal activity continues to inflict deteriorated network experiences on our valued customers.”
MTN said it has upgraded more than 5 000 base stations to make them more resilient to load shedding. Some 2 000 of these were done in August alone. As a result of this investment, it has seen a 15% improvement in network availability.