ZTE wins LTE contracts in Africa from Vodafone partner Afrimax

ZTE said it has 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.

The China-based vendor, which did not reveal the financial details of the deals, said it will provide LTE and evolved packet core (EPC) products covering wireless access, core networks, microwave transmission, value-added system, business support systems (BSS) and operating support systems (OSS) in the two markets. It noted that the latest partnerships in Cameroon and Zambia further strengthen the relationship between ZTE and Vodafone-Afrimax.

Afrimax formed the strategic framework agreement with Vodafone in November 2014 and plans to use the UK-based group's brand to market LTE services across Africa. In September this year, the Netherlands-based company raised $120 million (€112 million) in funding to accelerate the rollout of LTE. The company now holds LTE spectrum assets in 17 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the ZTE announcement.

The Netherlands-based company launched Vodafone Uganda in February this year with an offering of 2G, 3G and LTE services in Kampala and Entebbe initially. The 4G network in Uganda operates in the 2.6 GHz spectrum band.

In separate Africa mobile market news this week, Airtel Africa said it has agreed with Facebook to launch the social networking giant's Free Basics app and mobile web site across its 17 markets in Africa.

FierceWireless reported in September that Facebook had changed the name of the Internet.org app and mobile website to "Free Basics by Facebook" in order to set it apart from the company's wider Internet.org program. The move is believed to be a reaction to concerns over whether the programme runs afoul of the principles of net neutrality.

The platform provides free access to basic web sites and services with a focus on free health, education and finance-related information.

Airtel Africa has been working with Facebook since 2014 and has already launched free online services under Internet.org in Zambia, Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Seychelles and Rwanda. It now plans to launch the Free Basics service in Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Gabon and Niger followed by other Airtel Africa markets. The launch in all markets is to be completed by March 2016.

Chris Daniels, VP of Internet.org, noted that the Free Basics platform "encourages developers to create local content which helps customer's access services in a language they understand and also keeping them connected online."

For more:
- see the ZTE release
- see the Airtel and Facebook release

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Vodafone partner Afrimax raises $120M in funding for LTE expansion in Africa
Vodafone Uganda launches 4G services
Facebook's Internet.org connects 9M people, but net neutrality questions lead to 'Free Basics' name change
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