MTN's head office in Johannesburg. Picture: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK
MTN's head office in Johannesburg. Picture: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

Mobile operator MTN SA will boost its network capacity in tourist hotspots and expand coverage in rural areas this festive season as it expects the demand for its services to soar.

On Wednesday, the telecommunications group announced its upgrade plans to accommodate the festive rush.

These include rolling out new base stations to remote areas that were without connectivity before and technology upgrades on selected 3G and LTE (long-term evolution or 4G) stations in urban and rural parts of the country.

MTN said it would provide additional LTE coverage in some areas it had identified as having high traffic during this time.

In the Western Cape, MTN expects the network upgrades to result in a 75% enhancement in LTE coverage because the province has the highest LTE device penetration.

"These holiday boosts will help make sure that quality experience stays in place, no matter where our customers travel," executive for corporate affairs at MTN SA Jacqui O’Sullivan said.

The company said it would also keep track of New Year’s Eve events and, where required, add mobile base stations to reduce the midnight congestion.

O’Sullivan said the mobile base stations would provide added capacity in areas where the installation of permanent sites would not be completed in time for the holidays, or where permanent structures were not consistently required.

CEO Godfrey Motsa said recently the company’s capital expenditure programme meant MTN SA’s 3G network would cover 98% of the country’s population by the end of 2017, while its 4G network would cater for 73% of the country’s population, up from 43% in early 2016.

MTN SA had 30.9-million subscribers at the end of September 2017. Worldwide MTN has 230-million subscribers.