Orange Uganda enters into network management partnership with Eaton Towers

Mobile carrier Orange Uganda has entered into a 15-year passive network management partnership with emerging markets infrastrcuture specialist Eaton Towers. The deal will see Orange outsource the operation and maintenance of its existing sites in Uganda to Eaton Towers, while providing ‘build-to-suit’ new sites with a view to reducing costs and capital expenditure.

The two firms said that the large coverage of Orange Uganda’s tower portfolio combined with the ability and know-how of Eaton Towers to provide Orange with the best network quality will create a solid platform for future growth.

“The partnership will enable us to expand our network and develop new multimedia services, in particular in rural areas, helping us achieve our ambition to provide the Ugandan population with the best network coverage and high-quality services. said Philippe Luxcey, CEO of Orange Uganda.

He added that through the agreement, the firm will be able to reduce its operational costs and, at the same time, prevent the proliferation of masts thereby reducing the environmental and visual impact of our network, especially in urban and ecologically-sensitive areas.

Marc Rennard, EVP, Africa, Middle East and Asia for France Telecom-Orange, described the agreement as an important milestone in the group’s efforts to control operating costs across its footprint in the region.

“Orange Uganda’s towers initiative is the first of its kind and will be closely watched by Orange subsidiaries in other markets across Africa,” he said.

Tower sharing is a slow moving market and such deals can take up to two years to come to fruition. Activity in this area was first given momentum by Vodafone Ghana, which signed a ten-year contract with Eaton in late 2010. Although the concept of tower sharing had already taken off in more established markets, there was considerable reluctance from African operators to hand responsibility of their infrastructure to a third party.

Once the deal is in place, all the manual labour and process a company like Eaton has to go through regarding the towers, generators and security needs to be addressed. Challenges include the securing of land leases, the building of compounds, applying security and arranging refuelling for the power sources.

Read our interview with Eaton Towers CEO, Alan Harper: All along the cell towers

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