MTN Group to conduct 4G and 5G OpenRAN trials in three African countries

AFRICA – MTN Group has signed an MoU with Rakuten Symphony to conduct live 4G and 5G OpenRAN Proof of Concept (PoC) trials in three African countries.

The trials, which are set to start later this year, will make use of Open RAN technology from the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP), alongside advanced automation and autonomous network capabilities.

MTN and Rakuten Symphony will be collaborating with Accenture and Tech Mahindra to conduct the trials in South Africa, Nigeria, and Liberia.

The Proof of Concept (PoC) will demonstrate how one of the world’s top-tier brownfield mobile operators can utilize Rakuten Symphony’s network automation and orchestration solutions.

This will lead to cost-effective network transformation and timely deployment of next-generation network services to their customers across Africa.

We have announced our support towards the deployment of OpenRAN technology in 2021 to modernize our radio access network footprint,” said Mazen Mroue, MTN Group Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer.

As a leading provider of networks of the future, it is our mission to be a trusted transformation partner for operators globally,” said Manish Vyas, President of Communication, Media, and Entertainment in Tech Mahindra.

Through this partnership, we hope to target innovation and cost efficiencies that will enable us to continue delivering an exceptional customer experience.”

The solutions, currently deployed by Rakuten Mobile include cloud orchestration, Zero-Touch Provisioning (ZTP), and automation of radio site commissioning and network integration.

Rakuten Mobile has set multiple industry landmarks with its full-scale launch of commercial services on the world’s first fully virtualized cloud-native mobile network*1in 2020.

Rakuten Symphony brings together Rakuten’s telco products, services, and solutions under a single global banner to offer 4G and 5G infrastructure and platform solutions to customers worldwide.

In line with MTN Group’s Ambition 2025 strategy of leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress, this MoU will enable the launch of new services more quickly, cost-effectively, and seamlessly.

The collaboration will also enable MTN’s OpenRAN transformation program and will deliver the benefits of disruptive OpenRAN architecture to consumers and enterprises in Africa.

The fifth-generation standards adoption is still slow, with only 3% of the world’s mobile phone connections.

Currently, around 51% of Africa’s mobile phone connections are on 3G, and GSMA Intelligence believes that it will remain dominant, with 5G connections making up only 3% of total mobile connections in Africa by 2025.

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