Operator boosts capacity ahead of World Summit

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa-South African mobile network operator MTN announced that it is boosting its network capacity to ensure uninterrupted cellular services are available to both regular subscribers and visitors during the World Summit on Sustainable Development in August and September 2002 in South Africa.

Many of the network upgrades will remain in place after the Summit, resulting in a permanent capacity increase in geographic areas, such as the fast-growing Sandton CBD. While all venues already have coverage, some are reported to need extra capacity to cater to the expected increased volumes of mobile calls, short message service (SMS) traffic and data exchanges during the summit. It is estimated that roughly 65,000 delegates could visit Gauteng for the Summit.

“We’ve audited our capacity in key areas, and as a result we are upgrading existing base stations and installing new ones where necessary. These upgrades should be complete by the end of July, in good time for the summit,” said Dr Yvonne Muthien, MTN group executive of corporate affairs.

She added that service to existing subscribers would not be affected during the process of upgrading existing sites and installing new ones.

The Sandton Convention Center (SCC), which will be the United Nations precinct for heads of state, will receive a dedicated, permanent base station of its own with capacity for up to 6,000 people. The center is currently serviced by two exterior nearby base stations, which are also being upgraded to provide additional capacity.

Johannesburg International Airport currently has five sites, which are being upgraded, and additional capacity will be added if organizers’ projections indicate the need. Nasrec’s four current sites will be upgraded and one mobile base station will be added to ensure capacity for up to 30,000 people.

In addition to upgrades that will be completed before the summit, the operator is also equipped to carry out on-the-spot upgrades if additional capacity is needed during the event.

“Our network service center in Sandton is a 24-hour operation. Network performance and traffic volume trends are monitored hourly, and faults on specific base stations can be viewed every 15 minutes. This means that network congestion or an unavailable base station will be noticed almost immediately. Maintenance engineers are on call around the clock, and we have arranged accreditation for network staff to ensure that they have access to summit venues,” said Muthien.

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