MTN is planning on launching OpenRan in Africa. The Teleco giant sees the technology as a critical component in achieving its 2025 Ambition Leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress.
"MTN Group is leveraging our expansive footprint across Africa to test and ultimately deploy OpenRAN – an innovative technology that will enable us to launch new services more quickly, cost-effectively and seamlessly, supporting our strategy, Ambition 2025: Leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress." MTN Group
According to MTN Group, "OpenRAN allows for the disaggregation of hardware and software elements of a network, enabling telcos to build a network using components with the same specifications and scale from a diverse base of vendors." The technology has many benefits ranging from
- Diversifying the vendor landscape
- Disrupting the cost flow, and removing dependencies on proprietary suppliers.
- It also promises cost savings and flexibility as it allows operators to use generic hardware and open interfaces.
- It enables a ‘Lego architecture’ where many different vendors supply the components and software products that together make the end-to-end radio network work.
“While OpenRAN brings a new architecture to mobile networks and more suppliers to deal with, it gives telcos much-needed flexibility. This means that MTN can now look at building a network that can meet cost and capacity requirements of specific markets... This is a real game-changer for mobile advancement in emerging markets.” Amith Maharaj, MTN Group Executive: Network Planning and Design.
MTN plans to launch this technology by the end of the year with the help of their partners Altiostar, Mavenir, Parallel Wireless, TechMahindra and Voyage. The teleco giant first rolled out open-source technology in 2019 to improve rural coverage. Between that period and now, the company has deployed over 1 100 commercial sites in more than 11 countries.
“At MTN we are alive to the potential of open interfaces...Customers measure us against the speed with which we can deploy the latest technology and we are committed to finding faster and better ways to do that.” MTN Group Chief Technology and Information Officer Charles Molapisi.
While the technology is still in its early days and widespread adoption is likely years away, MTN said that it has already collaborated with a number of global players to reap the benefits and trigger innovation. In a bid to drive OpenRan standardization, MTN says it is participating in Facebook’s Telecom Infra Project.