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15.03.2012 Business & Finance

MTN Set For Major Data, Broadband Takeoff

By Charles Benoni Okine & Rita Adongo - Daily Graphic
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The Chief Executive Officer of MTN, Mr Michael Ikpoki has announced that the company will fully integrate the underground cable part of the West Africa Cable System (WACs) into its system by April, this year.

The move is to ensure that the company provides the needed internet and broadband services at speeds deserving of a market leader to its teeming subscribers across the country.

The MTN Boss who announced this in an interview with the Daily Graphic in Accra said MTN was well positioned to maintain a strong foothold in the data internet and broadband service delivery in the country just as it has been able to do with the mobile GSM services.

“We invested about US$90 million in the WACS capable which we landed in Accra in quarter two last year because we saw the opportunity that market in the country”, he said adding that; “We have also invested in having data centers across the country and so with data we are very aggressive on that”.

Mr Ikpoki said since the beginning of the year, MTN had observed a trend as far as demand for data internet and broadband has been and noted that based on the trend “we are looking to improving capacity in areas where we have seen huge data uptake”.

The 14,500 kilometer-WACS submarine cable which has docked at South La in Accra is an ultra-high capacity fiber optic submarine cable system which links Southern Africa and Europe, spanning the west coast of Africa and terminating in London, United Kingdom.

The submarine cable has come at a time when other companies such as Main One and Glo One have also docked to position themselves for the hungry internet and broadband market in the country.

Analysts, telecom operators and governments in the region have already expressed optimism that the new cable will spur Internet and broadband capabilities as well as push information technology to new heights.

They also described the move as an important endeavor for telecom in Africa to have a cable of that magnitude and noted that the time was now the companies have to take advantage of this for the future.

The $650 million cable system is the largest design capacity submarine cable system to ever land on the Africa continent.

It has 15 terminal stations that anchor along the western coast of Africa, including countries where MTN has operations such as Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Congo, Namibia and South Africa.

Mr Ikpoki said the landing of WACS in Ghana is a significant milestone for the industry and country, since it will serve as a key enabler to critical telecommunications development in Ghana.

WACS, with its 5.2 terabit design capacity, is expected to increase overall capacity for transmission of telecommunications data (bandwidth) in Ghana. This single cable will catapult the country deep into the digital age.

It comes at a time when the country said to be aback as far as internet and broadband services is concerned and with the mobile sector seeing significant growth in penetration, there is the need for that achievement to also reflect in data and broadband services.

Mr Ikpoki said investments into such expansion works in the industry is an expensive venture and noted that the market has to be there for companies to be able to do so.

He said the demand in Ghana is there, hence the investment and expressed the hope that when all was finally set, MTN will once again lead the way as it entrenches itself in the industry.

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