MTN Group said on Wednesday that it will deploy an OpenRAN network architecture across its operations in Africa, allowing interoperability between vendors and reducing costs.
MTN will begin testing OpenRAN with a view to deploying it commercially, it said. The technology will allow it to “launch new services more quickly, cost-effectively and seamlessly”. The radio access network eats up the bulk of capital and operating expenditure for mobile operators.
“We plan to modernise our radio access networks using OpenRAN. This is in line with one of five vital enablers of our strategy: to build technology platforms that are second to none, thereby allowing for the rapid expansion of 4G and 5G population coverage across our markets,” the group said in a statement.
It is gaining popularity as the industry seeks to promote an open and interoperable ecosystem between various vendors
By deploying OpenRAN technology, MTN will reduce its power consumption and carbon emissions, it said. This supports its plan to decarbonise its network and achieve net-zero emissions by 2040.
“OpenRAN 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. A disruptive trend, it is gaining popularity as the industry seeks to promote an open and interoperable ecosystem between various vendors,” MTN explained.
MTN plans to roll out OpenRAN by the end of the year and will work with partners Altiostar, Mavenir, Parallel Wireless, TechMahindra and Voyage to do so.
“The many benefits of OpenRAN include diversifying the vendor landscape, disrupting the cost flow and removing dependencies on proprietary suppliers. It also promises cost savings and flexibility as it allows operators to use generic hardware and open interfaces,” MTN said.
“It enables a so-called ‘Lego architecture’, where many different vendors supply the components and software products that together make the end-to-end radio network work.”
“While OpenRAN brings a new architecture to mobile networks and more suppliers to deal with, it gives telcos much-needed flexibility,” said Amith Maharaj, MTN Group executive for network planning and design, in the statement.
“This 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 or 4G seamlessly with existing legacy services. This is a real game changer for mobile advancement in emerging markets,” Maharaj said.
In efforts to drive OpenRAN standardisation, MTN is also participating in Facebook’s Telecom Infra Project, the group added