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MTN still on cloud nine following WACS arrival

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MTN representative Edwin Thompson (left) at WACS landing in Yserfontein on 19 April 2011 (Image credit: Angela Meadon)

The news of the arrival of West Africa Cables  Systems (WACS) is still making headlines in SA as Africa’s leading mobile cellular network, MTN heaps praises for the cable saying it will kill the existing monopoly.

Responding to questions from on Wednesday, MTN Managing Director for South Africa, Karel Pienaar, said the old cable systems were dictated by a single player arguing that the atmosphere was not conducive for competition.

“The old cable systems were controlled by a single player thus removing the benefit of competition. EASSy and WACS on the other hand, have multiple investors creating healthy competition with respect to undersea cable capacity,” said Pienaar.

He said before the arrival of WACS, South Africa was serviced by only SAT3, SAT2 and the SAFE cable systems, which had a combined capacity of less than 10% of the WACS cable system and around 1/3 of the EASSy cable system.

“WACS therefore has added benefits compared to the old system. Firstly, with a capacity of 5.2 terrabits per seconds, the most obvious benefit of WACS to the consumer is the added capacity availability,” Pienaar said. “This will ensure that consumers will have the capacity and ability to seamlessly and with greater speed access applications that have been bought about by smart phones and other telemetry services.”

He said investing in both WACS and EASSy provides a much more direct path with much lower latency.

“MTN has the ability to ensure the high levels of service provided to our customers, even when failures occur on a cable system. The costs of Internet services have already decreased substantially, partly due to the advent of alternate cable systems and their respective cost bases.

“The introduction of alternative undersea cables has brought down the costs of internet connectivity, further giving consumers an enhanced customer experience,” he said.

Furthermore, even as the costs of international capacity decrease following MTN’s investment in undersea cables, Pienaar said the “local” network components needed to be brought down as well to have a real impact on costs.

“Many initiatives are in place to address the local network components including the building of a national long distance network and whilst these cable systems are not the ‘silver bullet’ to reduce Internet and call costs, they are a building block towards more efficient communications as a whole,” Pienaar said.

He added that data pricing would gradually decrease as MTN starts to see more fibre rolled out across the country as well as undersea.

He said dynamic tariffing allows MTN to already offer voice and sms calls at up to 100% off based on network capacity and time of day.

“MTN has also decreased international calling prices gradually over the past two years as well as roaming charges. Recently, MTN launched free incoming calls when roaming in our SEA region on MTN,” said Pienaar.

By Tintswalo Baloyi

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