MTN starts testing OpenRAN, plans deployment this year

MTN Group has started testing OpenRAN technology across Africa, saying it will kick off deployment by the end of 2021.
MTN store South Africa
MTN aims to modernize its radio access networks using OpenRAN. MTN said this is in line with one of five enablers of its strategy: to build technology platforms that are second to none, thereby allowing for the rapid expansion of 4G and 5G population coverage across markets.

MTN aims to achieve a reduction in power consumption and associated carbon emissions. This, in turn, supports its plans to decarbonise mobile network and achieve net zero emissions by 2040.

The deployment of OpenRAN technology allows for the disaggregation of hardware and software elements of a network, enabling telcos to build a network using components with the same specifications and scale from a diverse base of vendors.

MTN aims to roll out OpenRAN technology by the end of 2021 in association with partners such as Altiostar, Mavenir, Parallel Wireless, TechMahindra and Voyage.

MTN, as part of its vision to utilize open-source technology, has deployed over 1 100 commercial sites in more than 11 countries, facilitating cost-effective deployment in unconnected areas.

“There is a lot of value that dominant players bring to the business, but telecom today is as much about the stability of the network as it is about new services,” says MTN Group Chief Technology and Information Officer Charles Molapisi. “Customers measure us against the speed with which we can deploy the latest technology and we are committed to finding faster and better ways to do that.”

While OpenRAN means that MTN can now look at building a network that can meet cost and capacity requirements of specific markets, or even rapidly deploy 5G and/or 4G seamlessly with existing legacy services, Amith Maharaj, MTN Group Executive: Network Planning and Design, said.