Current Issue 52
Mobile internet is revolutionising Malawi telecoms,serving as a catalyst for economic growth and TNM is keep to capitalise on this growth by balancing network investment with cost cutting techniques
Best-in-Class Internet Solutions
Writer: Emily Jarvis
Project Manager: Donovan Smith
Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM) is considered the pioneer mobile network in Malawi as first-movers in 3.5G broadband services and commanding 74 percent geographic network coverage. TNM offers a comprehensive range of pre-paid and post-paid services, including its unrivalled voice and data connectivity, with affordability and reliability in mind. These two key factors have resulted in a comprehensive strategy involving the recent acquisition of the ISP business from Burco Electronic Systems, continuous upgrades to its core network, enhancements to its already strong data coverage and completion of further improvements to the network.
“Just as mobile telephony has transformed traditional communications in Malawi, the internet has the potential to transform our economy further. Mobile internet access grew by 95 percent last year to more than two million users.
“Thus, we have upgraded the network to improve reliance and capacity and introduce new capabilities not only in order to improve the customer experience, but to ensure we have a network that is future proof,” explained the Company.
In 2014, TNM successfully completed the MK11.9 billion expansion of its data broadband services by deploying 87 additional 3G base stations across the country and upgrading the network in major cities to the latest 3.75G high-speed technology. Further to this, the Company is also preparing its core data network for the LTE data evolution.
“The provision of internet services in Malawi remains a huge growth area and as part of our own coverage expansion and general improvement strategy, we have added 36 new sites in Lilongwe City and the central region. We also completed a network modernisation project that has replaced 80 legacy BTS sites.
“Now, TNM has modern, state-of-the-art outdoor BTS sites that help to reduce operational costs while simultaneously reducing our carbon footprint,” said TNM.
This modernisation programme has allowed the Company to reduce its power consumption by almost half and includes the deployment of seven solar power systems and 20 hybrid generator power systems which reduces generator running hours by 70-80 percent.
“These investments further cement our long-term position in the country, but also our commitment to the surrounding industry trends that affect our business,” confirmed the Company.
TNM is continuing to expand its portfolio of innovative products through promotions and distribution, and customer service channels. In light of the significant increase in Malawians using mobile data services, Smart Data was launched in 2014 and offers a range of affordable data bundles: Smart Standard, Smart Surf, Smart Social and Smart Business.
“Data revenues more than doubled in 2014 following our improvements and widening of the 3.75G/LTE coverage. We have achieved significant improvements to the network quality offered to our customers, resulting in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty to our brand, and we now have a total market share of 47 percent as a result,” stated the Company.
By enhancing its own prepaid billing system, TNM is geared for bringing new flexible and affordable products to market for its customers such as free Facebook and unlimited WhatsApp products, with many more innovations in the pipeline.
Since the acquisition of the ISP business from Burco Electronic Systems Ltd, TNM has been working to integrate the new business with the current TNM mobile network product range, leveraging the synergies of both networks to form the foundation of TNM Business Services; a new division focusing to complement the current TNM portfolio.
TNM further explained: “TNM Business Services focuses on the internet service needs of large business enterprises and SME customers, and will leverage our existing loyal customer base to grow into the most innovative business solution providers for businesses in Malawi. This will help customers manage and simplify their business communications needs through premier services and superior platforms.”
In addition to the new product offering for businesses, the Mpamba mobile money service, which was launched in May 2013, has so far proven popular with customers and companies in improving revenue collection efficiency and service delivery; its subscriber base more than doubled in 2014 and more than MK5 billion has been transacted to date.
“We also launched the Pasavute loan service in March last year, which has provided more than 70 million loans to TNM customers over the course of 2014,” added the Company.
TNM has a strong brand presence in Malawi. This strength comes from being the country’s first mobile operator and more importantly, its position as a wholly-owned Malawian Company. The strong infrastructure, and products and services backbone that has been built in recent years is now supported by a growing workforce comprised of 664 employees, most of which are locally sourced.
This makes branding a key consideration for TNM to maintain its leading position, and companies like MGT Print form an integral part of this; producing TNM’s SIM cards that guarantee mobility and availability of the network. “It is equally important that our SIM cards are as eye-catching as our marketing posters and flyers and MGT helps to ensure that we are able to create a bespoke design in this regard,” commented TNM.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) plays a key role in further reinforcing TNM’s reputation as a household brand in Malawi. Last year, the Company proudly took part in more than 20 community projects across a broad array of socially conscious causes including; disaster relief, healthcare, education, environment, community development and sport.
“We reach out and empower our customers in ways never before possible. Our goal is to develop mobile telecommunication services and offerings that are accessible and within reach of every Malawian. In so doing we give every Malawian the means and ability to reach their full potential and allow them to play a full role in the development of Malawi.
“In 2014, we increased our contribution to CSR programmes by more than 31 percent and implemented a wide range of initiatives reflecting our aspirations to improve the life of disadvantaged Malawian communities,” detailed the Company.
By balancing costs with just the right level of investment, thanks to TNM, 33 percent of Malawians now have access to telecommunications services; a number which is destined to grow alongside the Network’s infrastructure improvements to further increase subscriber numbers and the use of mobile phones in Malawi.
Managing Director, Willem Swart concluded: “2015’s operational objectives remain the same and investment remains a core part of our strategy. We want to enable more people and businesses to realise their full potential and in doing so, our mobile services will contribute to the growth and development of the Malawi economy. Through continued emphasis on expansion and modernisation of our data network, TNM will be pursuing additional fibre coverage through a metro-fibre project in Lilongwe and Blantyre, and completion of phase three of our radio access network; in addition to continued hardware, software, billing and mobile money upgrades.
“I believe companies that can demonstrate year-in, year-out their ability to innovate and invest, are the ones likely to succeed. TNM is one of those companies.”