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MTN adds credibility to the OpenRAN movement

MTN has announced it will be partnering with Parallel Wireless to deploy 5,000 OpenRAN sites across its network.

The Parallel Wireless OpenRAN solution will allow MTN to deliver 2G, 3G and 4G connectivity simultaneously, targeting areas which are currently unconnected.

“OpenRAN is certainly not new to MTN. Our Group Technology teams concluded field trials in Zambia in 2018, deploying commercial sites from the start of 2019,” said Dirk Karl, Chief Procurement Officer at MTN.

“Our team has steadily been focused on creating viable RAN solutions alongside the traditional deployments of network technology suppliers in order to accelerate the rural expansion in our markets.”

Although OpenRAN has certainly attracted some attention, it is yet to make a significant splash in the telco pond. Emerging from the Telecom Infra Project (TIP), OpenRAN is an initiative to define and build 2G, 3G and 4G RAN solutions based on a general-purpose vendor-neutral hardware and software-defined technology.

Speaking to Telecoms.com on the side-lines of AfricaCom, Christoph Fitih of Parallel Wireless highlighted that the deal provides some much-needed credibility to the OpenRAN movement.

This is the challenge when it comes to OpenRAN. Many telcos understand the value the technology can offer, though telcos are traditional organisations. Most are incredibly risk-adverse, especially the smaller telcos, arguably the ones who will gain the most from OpenRAN. New ideas scare the telco industry.

From Fitih’s perspective, MTN’s confidence in OpenRAN validates the technology. Incorporating OpenRAN into its network should spark an interest in the minds of competitors, offering the movement confidence.

Whether this proves to be the spark which ignites the OpenRAN fire remains to be seen, though a stamp of approval from one of Africa’s most prominent and influential telcos certainly provides some weighty credibility.


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