MTN South Africa plans to expand both 4G and 5G connectivity with new spectrum purchase

Group CFO Tsholofelo Molefe says the acquisition fits into MTN’s plan to prioritise investments in its network.

South Africa completed its first radio frequency spectrum auction on Thursday, collecting R14.4 billion from six bidders, including MTN, which has acquired a total of 100MHz of radio frequency spectrum across the 800MHz, 2,600MHz and 3,500MHz frequency bands.

The acquisition will take the telecommunications company’s total permanent spectrum holdings to 176MHz.

According to group CFO Tsholofelo Molefe, MTN plans to sell and lease back more than 5,000 towers in the country to London-based IHS Tower and use the proceeds to fund the spectrum it bought for R5.2 billion.

“We’re pleased with the outcome and how it fits into our capital allocation discipline of prioritising investments in our networks. This will be funded from the proceeds that we expect to get from the SA tower sales,” she explained.

Tsholofelo added that, should MTN not receive the proceeds within 30 days of the regulator’s approval, it will use cash from its holding company to bridge the gap.

She concluded that the company will use the spectrum to expand both 4G and 5G connectivity to more parts of the country, while also enhancing rural, peri-urban, and urban network coverage, especially better indoor penetration.