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 By Emmy Olaki (New Vision)

MTN network is being congested at night due to excess traffic since the launch of the “50% Extra Free Airtime” promotion a fortnight ago.
The promotion offers subscribers 50% extra free airtime every time they load airtime.

Under the promotion, if one loads airtime of sh2,000, they will get sh1,000 worth of airtime extra free.

The free airtime can only be used between 10:00pm and 8:00am from Monday to Friday.

Erik van Veen, the chief commercial officer, explained over the weekend that when the promotion was launched, it was meant to give back to their customers for sticking with them during the difficult times.

It was also designed for the night off peak hours when there is free capacity on the network.

“What we underestimated is that at 10:00pm, over one million people will try to make a call at the same time. Our network is designed to carry 24,000 calls at any one time.

What we underestimated is that at 10:00pm, over one million people will try to make a call at the same time. Our network is designed to carry 24,000 calls at any one time.

“No network in the world can carry one million calls at any time. We advise our customers to spread their calls throughout the off peak hours and not just from 10:00pm to 10:30pm,” he said.

Van Veen disclosed that the company was trying to locate other off peak hours such as weekend “so that the promotion is spread out.”

He, however, ruled out the possibility of holding it during the day.

“We have a responsibility to Uganda. If we hold this promotion during the day, lines will be held up and people and the country will not be able to do what they have to.

“The country will come to a standstill and that will be irresponsible of us,” he said.

Explaining progress on network upgrade, Francis Kazinduki, the chief technical officer, said the second phase of the upgrade would be done this month.

The upgrade, he added, would give them extra capacity to take on more growth in subscribers of up to 3.6m.

The third phase, which will start thereafter, Kazinduki said, would give the company capacity to handle up to 10m subscribers.

The upgrade announced earlier this year, would cost up to $65m.
Van Veen said the market was growing and experiencing new unprecedented trends, which he confessed had made forecasting difficult.

“We live in a highly rural country and the rural market is beginning to play a big role in our market. I think the rural market is getting more monetised now,” van Veen lamented.
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