open RAN

Subsidized open RAN heads to rural Nigeria

Hotspot Network, a network-as-a-service provider, has signed a commercial agreement with MTN's operations in Nigeria to roll out open RAN to 2,000 villages. Morenikeji Aniye, CEO of Hotspot Network, said the aim was to establish 500 open RAN sites in "year one."

Parallel Wireless, which has been scooping up a fair amount of open RAN contracts of late, is part of the supplier mix.

The US software company can support all of the cellular generations in an open RAN environment, and is primarily supporting 2G and 3G in Nigeria, along with some 4G, over the 900MHz frequency band.

Hotspot Network, which earns its crust from offering managed services to communications service providers in Nigeria, including building, operating and managing towers and infrastructure, is systems integrator in the open RAN deployment.

Helping hands

A quarter of the funds needed for the 2,000-site rollout, says Parallel Wireless, will be provided by Nigeria's Universal Service Provision Fund (USPF). The fund is also tasked with promoting services once sites are live to end users and businesses.

Some "partner banks" (unnamed) will also provide funding for a mobile-phone acquisition scheme for women and farmers.

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Aside from the USPF, the Digital Farmers Club (DFC) is among the agencies supporting the open RAN initiative, which, says Aniye, "will enable faster time to market to deliver wireless Internet to consumers and businesses."

DFC is aimed at empowering women who run agriculture-based businesses, providing knowledge and skills in contemporary techniques, as well as advice on running a small business.

Bigger picture

Parallel Wireless is working closely with MTN to roll out a total of 5,000 open RAN sites in Nigeria, in both rural and urban areas. The 2,000-site commitment by Hotspot Network is part of the 5,000-target.

Light Reading understands that rollout of the other 3,000 sites has started but no official announcement has yet been made on progress.

— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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