Aviat signs multi-million-dollar agreement with Africell for 5G transmission network

5G transmission network

U.S.-based microwave networking company Aviat Networks announced on Monday a multi-million-dollar agreement with telecoms provider Africell to provide a 5G-ready end-to-end disaggregated transmission network across multiple African countries.

The new end-to-end disaggregated network, which will be designed, installed, and maintained by Aviat, will include Aviat WTM 4000 and WTM 4800 Multi-band point-to-point radios and CTR microwave switches, and disaggregated cell site gateways (DCSGs).

“Leading mobile operators like Africell recognize the operational advantages of a disaggregated solution and how its flexibility will enable the rapid delivery of broadband services,” said Peter Smith, CEO of Aviat Networks. “We are proud that Africell has placed its confidence in Aviat to meet the challenge of their first TIP-compliant DCSG project,” he added.

The DCSGs are Edgecore Networks running IP Infusion’s OcNOS network operating system.

The deployment, which will occur in Q2 2021, is Africell’s first Telecom Infra Project (TIP)-compliant DCSG endeavor; according to the operator, Africell serves two million subscribers throughout Africa.

“With escalating demand for high-speed mobile Internet services in our markets, and with 5G in our sights, we sought an approach that offers us fast deployment, maximum flexibility, and lowest TCO,” Wissam Fayad, Network Transmission Manager, Africell Holdings, said in a joint statement.

Slow deployment

On that same note “Sub Saharan Africa has always lagged in terms of mobile technology penetration,” Dr. Joyce Mwangama, Senior Lecturer Electrical Engineering University of Cape Town, explained.

“So, when we’re talking about 5G transmission network, the penetration is going to be quite slow and it will only in the beginning stages be deployed in small islands and small pockets,” she noted.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not the only hurdle for Africa’s 5G rollout because it could also be dragged into tensions between the United States and China over future 5G networks.

In parallel, mobile network operator Safaricom has launched a 5G transmission network in Kenya. This makes it the second country in Africa to roll out the technology to customers, according to GSMA, an organization representing mobile network operators worldwide.

The company is trialing the technology in four towns, and expects to expand it to nine over the next year.

Safaricom CEO Peter Ndegwa described the launch last week as “a major milestone for the country.”  The telco is implementing the project using technology from the Finnish company Nokia and the Chinese company Huawei.