Airtel picks Ericsson for its first LTE network in Africa

Airtel is to deploy its first African LTE network in the Republic of Seychelles, and has selected Ericsson as its network partner for the rollout.

The operator, which is part of the India-based Bharti Airtel group, said the network will be commercially launched this year and will use core and access equipment and services from the Swedish equipment manufacturer.

Airtel's agreement with Ericsson includes equipment, software and support services, as well as incorporating multi-standard radio base station equipment from the Ericsson RBS 6000 family, LTE RAN software and upgrading existing 2G and 3G access network software.

The network will use the 800 MHz frequency band and is expected to cover 10,000 LTE subscribers in the first phase.

"LTE transforms the mobile-broadband user experience, providing superior data speeds needed for services such as internet TV, mobile video-blogging, online video games and the mobile office-environment," noted Amadou Dina, country manager for Airtel Seychelles.

Airtel Africa joins a growing number of operators that are launching LTE networks in the continent to exploit what many believe is a huge untapped demand for online access to services in a number of markets.

For example, Orange is deploying LTE networks this year in Senegal, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ivory Coast, Botswana, and Mauritius. Elsewhere in Africa, a new type of LTE provider is emerging with no legacy 2G or 3G networks to worry about: such operators so far include Smile, Surfline Communications, and Cameroon-based Yoomee.

In addition, Vodafone recently signed a framework agreement with Afrimax Group to explore further opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa, with Uganda set to be the first target market under the new arrangement.

Netherlands-based Afrimax has built up a portfolio of TD-LTE spectrum in a number of countries across Sub-Sahara African. It is now starting commercial operations in its licensed markets, and will utilise the Vodafone brand to market its LTE services.

For more:
- see this Airtel release

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