By Hilary Mare
MTC data usage grew by 290 percent, subsequent to the rollout of the oSmartPhona campaign last year, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Thinus Smit, has revealed.
A customer impact survey carried out after the rollout also showed that voice minutes grew by 17 percent and SMSes were reduced, as expected, due to WhatsApp activity among MTC subscribers.
“Fifty-five percent more customers used data, 15 percent more customers used voice and 1 percent of customers used less SMSes, with WhatsApp being the main driver (for this),” Smit noted.
MTC, the country’s first cellular service provider, offered rural communities a brand new smartphone for N$399, during the oSmartPhona campaign, while embarking on a national roadshow to towns and villages across the 14 regions, which was aimed at providing at least 20 000 subscribers with an internet connection.
The oSmartPhona Roadshow also aimed to bring affordable 3G smartphones to rural areas across the country, and took place from the end of June until 20 August last year.
The project was driven to complement MTC’s recent US$60 million (about N$870 million) upgrade from a 2G to 3G telecommunications network, and its coverage in remote areas.
It included 37 roadshows countrywide.
According to MTC, bridging the rural-urban digital divide is critically important to the wellbeing of rural communities, and imperative to growing Namibia under the Harambee Prosperity Plan.
MTC board chairperson, Elvis Nashilongo, highlighted that they had aimed to ensure that the company’s strategic mission continues to resonate with customer expectations, for affordable and practical telecommunication services.
“The current state of our communications infrastructure in the country is good, and last year we did the 4.5G trial, an indication that we value keeping up with latest technologies. We, however, agree that there is much more that needs to be done. And we will invariably find and employ the measures necessary to better transform how communication is experienced in Namibia. We aim to achieve this by ensuring that we invest in the latest robust and agile technologies, as has been customary throughout the years,” Nashilongo said.
“We are aware that most people in rural areas are still not part of the digital divide, and we have redoubled our efforts to include them, by having launched the oSmartPhona campaign last year – an ongoing project, where we rolled out highly subsidised smartphones to give rural Namibians access to the digital world. The oSmartPhona campaign investment amounted to N$1 billion, and we are proud of this initiative, as it is an investment in our people.”
Last week, MTC announced its plans to invest N$1.1 billion to expand its network capacity through the 081EVERY1 project, which the company described as the beginning of a journey towards 100 percent population density coverage.
The project is slated to commence in October 2017 and will run until October 2019, according to Smit.
MTC will construct over 524 new sites, which will see it increasing its footprint to what is referred as a tenfold network standard, which is set to benefit the country’s remote rural areas.
A total of 412 new sites will be erected in rural areas, and 88 new sites in urban areas, in all 14 regions of Namibia.
The project will also see the introduction of 3G in major rural areas, especially in areas previously only serviced before by the 2G sector.
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