MTN and Rakuten Come Together to Conduct 4G/5G PoC Trials in South Africa

MTN Group and Rakuten Symphony have signed an MoU to conduct 4G and 5G OpenRAN PoC trials in South Africa.

MTN Group and Rakuten Symphony signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to conduct live 4G and 5G OpenRAN Proof of Concept (PoC) trials in South Africa, Nigeria, and Liberia based on Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP). RCP assists telcos worldwide with the deployment of fully cloud-native network services.

The trials, which will start in 2022, combine RCP OpenRAN technology with advanced automation and autonomous network capabilities with one of Africa’s top brownfield operators.

“We are pleased to announce our partnership with Rakuten Symphony to deploy live 4G and 5G OpenRAN trials across South Africa, Nigeria, and Liberia. In line with our belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life, we are committed to actively driving the rapid expansion of affordable 4G and 5G coverage across 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.”

Mazen Mroue, Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer, MTN Group

The solutions, currently deployed by Rakuten Mobile in Japan, include cloud orchestration, Zero-Touch Provisioning (ZTP) and automation of radio site commissioning and network integration.

“We’re excited to take this next step in our partnership with MTN. 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.”

Rabih Dabboussi, Chief Revenue Officer, Rakuten Symphony

Rakuten Mobile has set multiple industry landmarks with its full-scale launch of commercial services on the world’s first fully virtualized cloud-native mobile network*1 in 2020, and Rakuten Symphony, launched in 2021, is now bringing that technology to operators globally. Rakuten Symphony brings together Rakuten’s telco products, services, and solutions under a single global banner to offer 4G and 5G infrastructure and platform solutions to customers worldwide.

In line with MTN Group’s Ambition 2025 strategy of leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress, this MoU will enable the launch of new services more quickly, cost-effectively, and seamlessly.

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

“As one of the leading professional services firms in technology and networks in particular it is an exciting time in the industry for all parties on the OpenRan journey. In line with MTN Group’s Ambition 2025 of leading digital solutions for Africa, we are excited to be part of the partnership with both Rakuten and MTN to ultimately pass these benefits on to MTN’s consumers in the market.”

Nitesh Singh, Communications Media and Technology Lead for Africa

“Communication Service Providers today are increasingly focused on 5G network modernization. As a leading provider of networks of the future, it is our mission to be a trusted transformation partner for operators globally. We bring in deep expertise in integrating OpenRAN sub-systems and enabling end-to-end transformation through planning, designing, testing, deployment, and operationalization. This collaboration will enable MTN’s OpenRAN transformation program and will deliver benefits of disruptive Open RAN architecture to consumers and enterprises in Africa.”

Manish Vyas, President of Communication, Media and Entertainment (CME) and Chief Executive of Network Services in Tech Mahindra

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