In an effort to safeguard its investments of infrastructure as well as to maintain quality of service, MTN Uganda has called for the institution of stringent laws to help apprehend culprits responsible for persistent damage of its network infrastructure through malicious cuts. The Company has also cautioned Utility companies and companies responsible for Road works with whom MTN shares routes to me mindful of the damages.
In an interview with the MTN Chief Technical Officer, Rami Farah, he said persistent fiber damages put the business and customer quality at risk.
“We have seen some areas for instance, experiencing a total blackout for both voice calls and data services if both the protection and working routes are damaged. As a result, the network has also suffered high congestion levels due to a lack of coverage resulting in very poor call experience and dropped calls”.
Farah said as a means to safeguard the enormous investment in infrastructure development to ensure quality of service, MTN has embarked on building many rings to reinforce the transmission network and has to constantly reinforce the security at the sites to report on any activities likely to damage its fibre network.
“Also, in areas where we have temporary aerial cable, we are trying as much as possible to bury it after the works. We are also starting to institute penalties on the Utility providers as a way to deter them from continuing to damage our fibre”, he added.
MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer Mazen Mroué said, “Network downtime for enterprises usually results in significant revenue losses. We have however invested heavily in network infrastructure to minimize this down time so as to ensure that Customers and their Businesses are never offline. Unfortunately, these efforts are being affected by persistent network damages along our routes”.
“The continuous improvement in Network quality and services is being affected by different challenges including the increase in the number of vandalism cases on our Network infrastructure. For instance during the last 12 months, MTN Uganda recorded more than 200 incidents of infrastructure vandalism largely attributed to the theft of fiber cables by individuals and activities of road construction,” Mroué added.
Further to these cases, there has been an upsurge in the number of cases of theft of fuel from our generators and backup batteries which affect transition from the national electricity grid to standby generators whenever there is power-cut or fluctuation, thereby causing system failures and network performance instability. This is in addition to the fact that vandalism of our infrastructure escalates our operational costs, increases the workload of our Network Engineers and customer operations teams, and causes poor quality of service experienced by some of our subscribers due to network outages. Quality is of major concern to MTN Uganda and ensuring that our customers have the best in quality and service delivery is paramount in our day to day business operations
Apart from investing significantly on clarity of voice calls, MTN Uganda is the only service provider that offers Internet geographical redundancy by providing three Internet Uplinks that guarantee business continuity for its customers. This means that whether there is a Local Fiber cut within Uganda or a Fiber cut in Kenya or Rwanda, or an undersea cable cut, MTN can use an alternative route to still provide its customers with World-class Internet.
In February 2013, MTN officially commissioned its Fibre network at Katuna Border in Kabale district. The commissioning of the fibre at Katuna was a major development which has had a positive impact on Uganda’s ICT Roadmap. This landmark development was the first terrestrial link to Rwanda that was earmarked to greatly lower cost and significantly improve quality of communications services in the region. It has since substantially improved the connectivity with neighboring countries and the world by connecting Uganda to an additional submarine cable SAT-3 to Rwanda via the Tanzania route from Dar es Salaam.
This is in addition to the other two cables already connected through the Kenya route from Mombasa which provide Uganda with unique redundancy and a backup structure for secured and reliable connectivity while providing quality voice and data services. This important development is in line with MTN Uganda’s commitment of leading innovation in the market and in the region as a whole.
MTN Uganda continues to be the pioneer of innovation by rolling out products and services to suit the needs of its customers.
In terms of Network Infrastructure, MTN continues to lead the way in terms of investment and its commitment to development of the ICT sector. MTN has secured USD 60 million as additional investment in 2014 to expand its Infrastructure and Services and this will be added to the USD 150 million invested during the last 2 years.
MTN Uganda launched its Mobile Network operations in 1998 and since inception MTN’s cumulative investment has been in excess of UGX 1.7 Trillion. In 2013, the company injected more than UGX 140 billion in upgrading the Network infrastructure and adding another 400Km of national fibre. By December 2013, MTN Uganda’s total Fibre infrastructure exceeded 3,200km.