Godfrey Motsa, CEO of MTN South Africa, says that more spectrum for networks would be key to cheaper mobile data prices for consumers, down to R50 per gigabyte.
Speaking at the 2017 MyBroadband Conference on Thursday, Motsa said that additional spectrum could see the operator match Telkom Mobile’s out-of-bundle data prices – 29c per megabyte.
However, the government has been dragging its feet on releasing spectrum – the capacity wireless networks require to offer connectivity to mobile devices.
Motsa said the government could release more capacity in the 2,600MHz band right now, as those frequencies have been lying dormant.
The chief executive said that a lack of spectrum was, in effect, robbing the poor, as it meant operators are struggling to lower costs. “Spectrum is oxygen for networks. Spectrum reduces prices,” said Motsa.
He added that current capex spent – capex intensity – is not sustainable for operators who spend up to R10 billion annually on improving their networks. He said that while MTN has made ‘strong strides’ in 2017, investment numbers are high because there is no spectrum, making it difficult to reduce prices.
Motsa said that MTN has set a group target of connecting 300 million subscribers by 2020, made up of 200 million data customers, and 100 million digital customers. From a local point of view, “this region is expected to lead,” he said.
Motsa promised that within the next 30 days MTN will announce “something radical on data pricing”.