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Read next on IOL MTN sees hike in traditional calls and VoIP – IOL


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DURBAN – SOUTH African operator MTN SA has over the past year seen an increase in traditional calls and voice over internet protocol calls (VoIP), as well as increased data consumption.

MTN executive for corporate affairs Jacqui O’Sullivan said yesterday that, generally, before the lockdown, there had been a decrease in the use of traditional call minutes while VoIP had continued to grow.

“The increased usage of 3G and 4G devices may contribute to VoIP popularity. However, at this point consumers continue to utilise traditional voice calls and, whilst there is still a need, MTN will continue serving its customers on both fronts,” said O’Sullivan.

She said that, in response to the increase of VoIP, MTN was expanding its Ayoba instant messaging and browsing platform as a way to reach not only MTN customers, but a wider audience of users across Africa.

The group said current trends showed there had been a shift in geographic consumption, with very low usage in central business districts and higher-than-normal usage in residential areas. It had seen a spike in data consumption, particularly on social platforms, Netflix, DStv and gaming.

MTN said it would continuously modernise its network to ensure that its customers experience the best network and seamless connectivity.

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) chief executive Busi Mavuso said in their weekly note on Monday that completing the spectrum auction would trigger investment in 5G and broadband networks.

Last week, the council of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) announced that it had resolved to review the Information and Communications Technology Covid-19 National Disaster Regulations and extend the temporary radio frequency spectrum assignments issued to licensees for another two months, beginning from April 1 to May 31.

The temporary release of high demand spectrum (HDS) to licensees was said to be aimed to mitigate the impact of the national state of disaster following the outbreak of Covid-19 last year, mainly by easing network congestion, maintaining good quality of broadband services, and enabling licensees to lower the cost of access to consumers.

The regulations made provision for, among other things, the zero-rating of some critical health and education websites in order to promote universal access and service to health information and services, and to support the development of virtual classrooms for learners.

The extension meant that mobile operators would continue to deliver faster connectivity to customers to meet a spike in data demand as some people continue to work from home.

Consumers would also continue to enjoy free access to certain critical health and education websites, per the conditions of the emergency spectrum.

Licensees were supposed to return the temporary spectrum to the regulator by no later than March 31, when Icasa was meant to have auctioned permanent spectrum. However, the high court halted the planned auction earlier this month, deeming the process unlawful and irrational.

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