At the end of February 2022, the South African group MTN began a new stage in its development on the continent, taking on the status of technology operator. It is also beginning the technical change that will enable it to optimize its services.
MTN Group and Japanese infrastructure provider Rakuten Symphony will conduct proof-of-concept (PoC) trials of 4G and 5G Open Radio Access Networks (OpenRAN) technology in South Africa, Nigeria and Liberia. These trials will be performed on the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP), which helps telecom operators around the world deploy fully cloud-native network services. The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding on Thursday March 3, during Mobile World Congress 2022.
As part of these trials which will begin this year, MTN and Rakuten Symphony will collaborate with Accenture and Tech Mahindra. “ We are pleased to announce these partnerships to deploy live 4G and 5G OpenRAN trials across South Africa, Nigeria and Liberia. In line with our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life, we are committed to actively driving the rapid expansion of affordable broadband coverage in markets across Africa ,” said Mazen Mroue, Chief Technology Officer and information systems at MTN.
This is part of the MTN Group’s “Ambition 2025” strategy, which consists of providing leading digital solutions for the progress of Africa. The announcement came days after the South African group unveiled its new brand identity, marking its transition from a telecommunications company to a technology company. Since 2021, MTN has already shown its desire to deploy OpenRAN across its entire African network. Meanwhile, other operators have become interested in this technology. These include Orange and Parallel Wireless in the Central African Republic, and Vodafone in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Thanks to OpenRAN technology, MTN should obtain more flexibility to modernize its telecom network and make it evolve towards the latest mobile technologies in the test markets, before extending it to the whole continent. This memorandum of understanding will also make it possible to launch new services more quickly, in an innovative, cost-effective and transparent way. OpenRan should enable MTN to reduce costs, investments, and associated energy consumption and carbon emissions.