Rural telecom coverage as a service? MTN taps Ericsson

MTN South Africa
Telecom network vendor Ericsson announced its first managed rural coverage deal with MTN to provide mobile connectivity as a service in parts of Benin where connectivity was previously unavailable.

Jean-Claude Geha, head of Managed Services at Ericsson, said that managed rural coverage is a new business model for the telecom network vendor. MTN is the first customer for Ericsson’s mobile connectivity as a service business. It aims to expand the “connectivity as a service” business to other countries as well.

Indian telecoms such as BSNL, Airtel, Idea Cellular, Vodafone, Reliance Communications, etc. struggle financially to spread their winds to rural India. Ericsson’s mobile connectivity as a service will be one of the solutions to handle poor coverage in rural telecom markets.

TRAI (Telecom Regulatory Authority of India) says wireless subscription in Indian rural areas increased from 415.92 million to 418.36 million during July-August 2015. On the other hand, wireless subscription in urban areas increased from 567.29 million to 570.33 million.

MTN will utilize satellite transmission and solar energy to minimize costs and cut emissions, while improving the financial viability of these rural and low population penetration areas in Africa.

Ericsson offers managed rural coverage solution to provide mobile coverage for a period according to service level agreements and defined key performance indicators. The current deal between MTN Benin and Ericsson is for five years.

As per the contract, Ericsson will support MTN to provide mobile access via low-power consumption radio base stations running on solar energy to avoid high costs and emissions associated with diesel generators. Ericsson equipments will provide transmission via satellite to avoid high costs and civil works associated with building a microwave backhaul network in remote villages.

“With Ericsson’s help, we are now able to provide mobile coverage in areas where it previously did not exist. This connectivity allows people in these areas to communicate with family, friends and acquaintances which they previously could not do,” said Stephen Blewett, CEO of MTN Benin, in a statement.

In January, Ericsson and MTN Benin announced a partnership to retrieve and dispose of electronic equipment that has reached end of life.

Baburajan K
[email protected]