MTN selects partners to expand OpenRAN

02 July 2021

South African operator MTN has picked five partners to launch an open radio access network (OpenRAN) in Africa to expand 4G and 5G services more quickly and cheaply.

The network provider said it aimed to roll out OpenRAN by the end of 2021 with its partners, Voyage, India’s Tech Mahindra and US-based firms Altiostar, Mavenir and Parallel Wireless.

A radio access network (RAN) connects individual devices to other parts of a network through radio connections. Previously, network equipment provided by Nokia, Ericsson, Huawei and other firms was largely proprietary, making it difficult to mix.

However, US government restrictions that have hit Huawei’s ability to source chips have sped the adoption of so-called openRAN technology, where any vendor can assemble industry-standard chips and software to create inter-operable networking gear.

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