MTN first to choose new Ericsson rural coverage approach

Ericsson won its first customer for a new managed rural coverage business model, agreeing a five-year deal with South Africa-based operator MTN covering its business in the West African country of Benin.

The agreement will see Ericsson deploy and manage a mobile network in central and northern Benin that will utilise satellite connectivity to keep rollout costs down. In another cost-saving move, the infrastructure company plans to install solar-powered base stations to eliminate the expenditure of civil works and minimise energy consumption charges.

Jean-Claude Geha, VP and head of managed services at Ericsson, said managed rural coverage is a new approach to providing mobile services in remote areas, and provide a "basic human need," in terms of connectivity.

"We believe people in rural parts of Benin will benefit greatly from their new found mobile connectivity, which greatly increases access to information and services that support health, education and small businesses," he commented.

The managed rural coverage model sees Ericsson provide operators with mobile coverage for a set period, and to a pre-arranged set of service level agreements and KPIs. In a statement, the company explained that the low-cost approach was key to its deal with MTN Benin, because many people in the country have to live on less than $2 (€1.76) per day.

MTN Benin CEO Stephen Blewett said the infrastructure company was enabling his company to "provide mobile coverage in areas where it previously did not exist."

Such connectivity "allows people in these areas to communicate with family, friends and acquaintances which they previously could not do," and establish themselves as "MTN Mobile Money agents," Blewett added.

Ericsson separately announced it is moving to acquire the Polish and Ukrainian operations of software development company Ericpol.

The infrastructure company announced it has concluded a preliminary share purchase agreement for Ericpol, which has been an Ericsson supplier for at least 20 years. Some 2,000 Ericpol staff will transfer to Ericsson when the deal is completed, which the company predicted would happen in the first quarter of 2016.

For more:
- see Ericsson's MTN Benin announcement
- read this Ericpol acquisition statement

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