Telecom Lead Africa: Ericsson has assisted MTN South Africa to launch 4G / LTE network which will be rolled out across the country.
Ericsson will supply its RBS 6000 base stations, the Evolved Packet Core, Home Subscriber Server (HSS) for user data management, Operating Support Systems (OSS), project management and services.
It is a significant announcement as this is the first commercial LTE network built by Ericsson in Africa. Ericsson’s 4G pilot in Africa has been on more than a year.
According to Analysys Mason, 4G/LTE will account for 10 percent of SIMs in the Middle East and North Africa markets by 2017. 4G connections will grow at a CAGR of 122 percent between 2012 and 2017. 4G will not be launched in Egypt until 2013 and Morocco in 2014.
In a recent report, Yankee Group said the number of active LTE connections will grow from 114 million in 2013 to 258 million in 2014. The OTT threat is eating into operator revenues. In 2011, mobile operators worldwide generated $769 billion in voice and consumer messaging service revenue. By 2016, this will fall to $697 billion.
“MTN’s first LTE network will enable our South African customers an experience that is more efficient and seamless,” said Lambo Kanagaratnam, chief technology officer of MTN South Africa.
Ericsson has more than 90 commercial LTE contracts on six continents, of which over 50 networks have already gone live. More than 455 million people worldwide have LTE coverage, of which 305 million are covered by LTE networks supplied by Ericsson (July 2012).
“This will open opportunities and will change the way people work, live and play. The commercial deployment of LTE will help users experience and interact in a better, more efficient way,” said Lars Lindén, head of Region Sub-Saharan Africa, Ericsson.
Middle East and Africa is gaining attraction from 4G equipment vendors. Operators are looking for 4G to improve average revenue per user (ARPU). UAE has the highest ARPU of $37 per month in 2011. The ARPU in Egypt is $5.5 in 2011.