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4G/5G

MTN, Rakuten Symphony to run open RAN trials in Africa

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Pan-African operator MTN and Rakuten Symphony have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to conduct live 4G and 5G open RAN Proof of Concept (PoC) trials in South Africa, Nigeria and Liberia.

Open RAN is a network infrastructure model developed by the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) based on open, disaggregated network elements that offer more network agility and much lower deployment and maintenance costs.

The trials, which will start in 2022, combine Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) open RAN technology – and its advanced automation and autonomous network capabilities – together with one of Africa's top brownfield operators.

MTN Group CTIO Mazen Mroue said in a statement that the group is committed to actively driving the rapid expansion of affordable 4G and 5G coverage across its markets in Africa.

"We have announced our support towards the deployment of OpenRAN technology in 2021 to modernize our radio access network footprint. Through this partnership we hope to target innovation and cost efficiencies that will enable us to continue delivering an exceptional customer experience," Mroue added.

RCP assists telcos worldwide with the deployment of fully cloud-native network services.

"This PoC will demonstrate how one of the world's top-tier brownfield mobile operators can utilize Rakuten Symphony's network automation and orchestration solutions for cost-effective network transformation and timely deployment of next-generation network services to their customers across Africa," said Rabih Dabboussi, chief revenue officer at Rakuten Symphony.

MTN and Rakuten Symphony will be collaborating with Accenture and Tech Mahindra to conduct the trials in South Africa, Nigeria and Liberia.

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*Top image is of Amith Maharaj, MTN Group executive for network planning and design; Tareq Amin, Rakuten Symphony CEO; and Rabih Dabboussi, chief revenue office of Rakuten Symphony. (Source: Rakuten Symphony)

— The Staff, Connecting Africa

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