Current State of Open RAN – Middle East and Africa

The current state of Open RAN - which countries and operators in the Middle East and Africahave deployed/trialed Open RAN?
Current State of Open RAN

The current state of Open RAN in Middle-East


 

Etisalat (UAE)

Etisalat, the UAE-based operator, was the first to launch an Open virtual Radio Access Network (Open vRAN) in Jan 2020. It gradually plans to expand the rollout of Open vRAN across the UAE. The key vendors in the Open vRAN deployment included Parallel Wireless, Altiostar, Cisco, and NEC. It is using commercial off-the-shelf hardware as an alternative to traditional proprietary network equipment.

Global Open RAN: Etisalat operates in 16 markets across Middle-east, Asia, and Africa. They recently signed an agreement with Parallel wireless to deploy O-RAN compliant network in Afghanistan in partnership with Intel and Supermicro, replacing existing legacy applications. Intel will provide a 3rd generation Xeon processer, which would run on Supermicro servers.

MoU with Rakuten: Etisalat has been exploring the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP) for some time.They signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Rakuten Mobile to develop a reference blueprint for mobile broadband networks and Open RAN technology based on the RCP.  

STC (Saudi Arabia)

STC tested O-RAN sessions in Saudi Arabia in partnership with STC Solutions and Altiostar in Dec 2020. The Open RAN testing aligns with STC’s DARE strategy for a bright digital future.

MoU with Rakuten: STC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Rakuten Mobile to collaborate on various technologies, including OpenRAN deployment options for greenfield and brownfield use cases. The goal is to accelerate the delivery of mobile network services via OpenRAN technology.  


The current state of Open RAN in Africa (4G/5G)


 

MTN (Zamia, Mozambique, Uganda and Guinea Conakry, South Africa)

MTN has deployed over 200 commercial rural sites across its geographical footprint, using OpenRAN technology. They are projecting to deploy more than 5000 sites in rural areas across 21 operations, bringing 2G,3G, and 4G connectivity. Zambia: MTN technology group conducted the first trials of OpenRAN in 2018 and deployed commercial sites in 2019 in Zambia with Parallel Wireless. Mozambique: MTN conducted OpenRAN based trials for 4G in Mozambique. Key vendors included Parallel Wireless, Mavenir, CrowdCell, and Lime Microsystems. Uganda and Guinea Conakry: MTN has ongoing OpenRAN based operations for 4G commercial services in Uganda and Guinea Conakry, with VANU, Parallel Wireless, and NuRAN wireless. South Africa: MTN conducted 4G trials based on OpenRAN in South Africa with Parallel Wireless. As one of the key members of the TIP, MTN carries out solution testing on all hardware and software elements at its state-of-the-art head office in Johannesburg, South Africa.  

Vodafone (Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique)

  Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): Vodacom has conducted trials with TIP OpenRAN in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) with Parallel Wireless. Mozambique: Vodafone (Vodacom) conducted OpenRAN based trials for 4G in Mozambique. Key vendors included Parallel Wireless, Mavenir, CrowdCell, and Lime Microsystems.

Read the complete article in the 5G Magazine

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