by AKANI CHAUKE
JOHANNESBURG – POWER outages have emerged the biggest threat to MTN’s network quality, the company disclosed as South Africa’s energy woes reached alarming levels this week.
Load shedding, while indeed has a direct impact, also escalates the problems of vanadalism and theft of infrastructure by criminals under the cover of darkness.
“Although the vandals and thieves have a direct impact on network availability and stability, load-shedding and load reduction, which has increased over the past five years, has emerged as the biggest contributor to our challenges,” said Ernest Paul, MTN SA General Manager: Network Operations.
Paul said new rounds of load shedding place network availability under increased strain as the battery back-up system generally takes 12-18 hours to recharge, while batteries generally have a capacity of 6-12 hours, depending on the site category.
“Constant outages have a direct impact on the performance of the batteries, while theft of the batteries themselves means replacements need to be installed,” he explained.
“Battery autonomy therefore remains one of the biggest pillars of resilience followed by the infrastructure security to protect the batteries and other equipment that form part of our network infrastructure.”
Latest data shows that the total incidents of theft and vandalism of MTN infrastructure amounted to 378 in May, up from 312 in April.
Paul said the most significant improvement has occurred in the reduction in battery theft, which is down to 52 incidents in May this year compared with as many as 78 incidents in May 2020.
However, of more concern, is that copper theft is on the rise – measuring 94 incidents in May up from 63 incidents a year ago.
A notable surge in total incidents has occurred in the Eastern Cape, which measured 76 in May, compared with only 32 this time last year. Limpopo has registered the highest number of incidents of 83 in
May, and this is up significantly from the 43 incidents of a year ago.
At the same time, this is the first time South Africa has experienced this level of load shedding in June compared to any other year.
The company stated it was working round the clock to maintain network stability as power outages, battery theft and vandalism pose ongoing risks.
– CAJ News