There are three 4G LTE service providers in the country who are only operating in Greater-Accra Region, but MTN Ghana has so far deployed 4G cell sites and other infrastructure in at least four regions pending the commercial launch of the service later this year.The telecoms giant has deployed 27 4G cell sites in Greater Accra, 23 in Kumasi, eight in Sekondi/Takoradi, nine in the mines area (Tarkwa and Obuasi), and one each in Koforidua and the Ashesi University.
MTN Ghana CEO, Ebenezer Asante, who announced this at a forum with Editors and stakeholders said: “if it is just to make a point, we would say we have launched 4G, but we want to get a critical mass of deployments so that we can launch nationwide by the middle of this year.”
The company provided the editors and stakeholder the opportunity to experience its 4G LTE services within its head office building in Accra as proof that the service is live.
When MTN got their 4G 800MHz FDD spectrum license December last year, they promised to launch commercially in six months, and the CEO said they are well on their way to meet that target.
They bought the 2x10MHz spectrum with the 800MHz for US$67.5million and finished paying in January this year, and have so far earmarked an additional US$18million to specifically deploy the service across the country.
Asante said MTN is committed to ensuring that, at the launch of their 4G service, the experience will be smooth and great for their customers and so they are open to making a more financial investment if need be.
According to him, when the service is deployed, its availability will be similar to how the 3G and 2G have interplayed so far, where the customer gets 2G, 3G and now 4G on their phone depending on where the service is available.
He noted that the experience 4G offers is a multiple time better than 3G, illustrating that where 3G is running 2,000kmps, 4G will go 100,000kmps.
“In effect, if it takes a 3G network two hours to download a high definition video, it will take only 15mins to download the same video with a 4G LTE network,” he said.
Asante foresees three major areas of benefits that a nationwide 4G availability could bring to Ghana, namely economic growth, innovative service and social impact.
He also believes 4G will facilitate e-health services and even remote surgeries, where a specialist may not be at the location of the procedure but be able to direct another surgeon to conduct a successful surgery just by watch it on a crystal clear video produced on a 4G network.