Ericsson and MTN Ghana trial first UMTS 900 MHz roll-out in Africa

Ericsson and MTN Ghana demonstrate it is possible to build and expand cost effective nation-wide mobile broadband coverage

Ericsson has successfully trialled UMTS 900 MHz for the first time on the African continent with operator MTN Ghana. UMTS 900 MHz further extends mobile broadband coverage especially into suburban, rural and offshore areas, offering coverage up to 200 km. In urban areas it compliments UMTS 2100 MHz in offering more network capacity and better in-building coverage.

Lars Lindén, President, Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa, says; “By leveraging off their existing installed Ericsson 3G Radio Access Network and enabling UMTS in 900 MHz, not only can voice, video and high speed data calls be carried over the network, but operators benefit from having one network delivering all services with the lowest total cost of ownership.”

According to a GSMA report1, UMTS 900 provides between 44% (in urban areas) and 119% (rural areas) increased coverage per Node-B compared with UMTS 2100. This is primarily due to the propagation characteristics of the lower frequency band and leads directly to lower CAPEX and increased mobility benefits, providing a new option, with greater service capability, for operators who may wish to replace their GSM networks.

Given the recent establishment of a comprehensive end-to-end communication solution providing 3.5G mobile communications and Internet access to rural clusters in Ghana, Ericsson is able to continue its focus of bringing mobile voice and Internet data services to the community which impacts the end-user directly, enabling access to health, education and small businesses.

MTN Ghana CTO, Eben Albertyn says; “Ericsson’s solid position as an established infrastructural provider in the local and international market and the diverse connectivity services they are able to offer MTN Ghana, allows us to continue to grow our network coverage locally as well as into many rural and remote sites – bringing voice and data services to our growing subscribers.”

GSM in 900 and 1800 MHz have proven an immense success story in Africa in providing basic telephony and data services. Under the terms of the agreement, Ericsson will be responsible for the access, transport and transmission of 3G UMTS 900 MHz, where roll-out will begin in Q2 2010. Additionally, Ericsson developed advanced special features and assisted with the spectrum optimisation of GSM to free up just 3.8MHz required for UMTS 900 MHz. A fast and efficient migration to UMTS 900 MHz enables superior coverage and capacity.

The trial was completed with legacy 3G RBS 3418 main-remote equipment, previously installed by MTN Ghana. This further showcases the longer equipment life-cycle and better total cost of ownership of the Ericsson solutions provided at the beginning of the 3G rollout. The use of 900 MHz also allows operators to reuse existing GSM 900 antenna systems for UMTS 900.

Lindén concludes; “African operators should be seen as meeting the challenges that their markets uniquely present and vendors should be seen as being proactive in supporting these operators in their diverse challenges – enabling communication irrespective of the boundaries that exist. Ericsson is doing just that – pioneering the use of 3G in different frequency bands and demonstrating that it is possible to build nation-wide mobile broadband networks now.”

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Ericsson and MTN Ghana trial first UMTS 900 MHz roll-out in Africa