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MTN, Rakuten Symphony sign MoU to conduct Open RAN trials

MTN Group and Rakuten Symphony 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 based on the Rakuten Communications Platform (RCP). RCP assists telcos worldwide with the deployment of fully cloud-native network services.

Trials, which will start in 2022, will demonstrate RCP Open RAN 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 Open RAN 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,” said Mazen Mroue, MTN Group Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer. “We have announced our support towards the deployment of Open RAN 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.”

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,” said Rabih Dabboussi, Chief Revenue Officer of Rakuten Symphony. “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.”

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.

Communications Media and Technology Lead for Africa, Nitesh Singh said, “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 Open Ran 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.”

President of Communication, Media and Entertainment (CME) and Chief Executive of Network Services in Tech Mahindra, Manish Vyas said, “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 Open RAN sub-systems and enabling end-to-end transformation through planning, designing, testing, deployment and operationalization. This collaboration will enable MTN’s Open RAN transformation program and will deliver benefits of disruptive Open RAN architecture to consumers and enterprises in Africa.”

CT Bureau

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