The South African operator has revealed five key Open RAN partners with which it hopes to begin rolling out Open RAN technology by the end of this year

Earlier this week, Vodafone announced partnerships with six Open RAN vendors, including Dell, NEC, and Samsung, with which it will begin rolling out the interoperable technology in England and Wales. 

As part of the announcement, Vodafone said that they would soon look to extend their Open RAN rollout to more of Europe and to their markets in Africa.

However, it seems that MTN could beat them to the punch with regards to the latter, yesterday announcing a quintet of Open RAN vendors with which it aims to roll out the new technology on the African continent. 

MTN says it is working with Voyage, Tech Mahindra, Altiostar, Mavenir, and Parallel Wireless to expand their 4G and 5G services in Africa more quickly and cheaply, as well as to help them hit their environmental goals of achieving net zero emissions by 2040. 

The operator plans to rollout Open RAN tech with these partners in live networks by the end of the year. 

"This is a real game-changer for mobile advancement in emerging markets," said Amith Maharaj, MTN group’s head of network planning and design.

MTN has been exploring Open RAN technology since at least 2019, when it first began rolling out the technology in a limited fashion to help tackle issues of rural coverage. By 2020, it had signed a deal with Parallel Wireless, Vanu and NuRAN, aiming to deploy around 5,000 Open RAN sites across Africa. 

Currently, the company reportedly has over 1,100 commercial Open RAN sites in more than 11 countries. 

“While OpenRAN brings a new architecture to mobile networks and more suppliers to deal with, it gives telcos much-needed flexibility,” says Amith Maharaj, MTN Group Executive: Network Planning and Design. “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 and/or 4G seamlessly with existing legacy services.”


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