Airtel Zambia picks Ericsson for network upgrade

Airtel Zambia selected Ericsson to overhaul its 2G and 3G networks, as the country's three mobile operators remain under pressure to improve the quality of their services and reduce costs.

Ericsson said it has extended an existing partnership with a new contract that covers the upgrade of Airtel Zambia's radio access network (RAN) infrastructure in every major region of the country.

The contract covers equipment, software and a range of professional services, including project management, systems integration and support. It also includes the transformation of existing 2G infrastructure and the swapping out of existing 3G sites.

In January, AllAfrica reported that Airtel Zambia plans to spend more than $48 million (€42 million) to upgrade its network infrastructure across the Southern African country. It also plans to invest a further $30 million to procure and install generators to improve power supply, the report added.

A report from analysts BuddeComm last year noted that Zambia's telecoms regulator, the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA), had launched legal action against the existing mobile networks because of poor quality of service. At the same time, it revived old plans to issue a fourth mobile licence in the hope that the arrival of a fourth player would force the existing players to take measures to improve services.

ITWebAfrica reported in March this year that Vodafone had been awarded the fourth mobile licence, although Vodafone has declined to comment on the reports.

Worth noting here is that in November last year, Chinese vendor ZTE revealed that it had won LTE contracts for Cameroon and Zambia on an exclusive basis from Afrimax, which has a partnership agreement with the Vodafone group for the rollout of 4G services across Sub-Saharan Africa.

ITWebAfrica said the Zambian mobile phone market currently has just above 11 million customers. Around 5 million of these are served by MTN Africa, which in 2014 overtook Airtel Zambia to become the largest mobile player. Zamtel is the market's third-largest player.

For more:
- see this Ericsson release
- see this ITWebAfrica article
- see this AllAfrica article
- see this BuddeComm report

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