NEC and Tanzania Telecommunications doubling mobile network capacity

NEC Corporation is upgrading microwave links to double mobile network capacity in six rural and island locations across Tanzania.

The capacity upgrade will allow the Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) to meet demand from local citizens, enterprises and tourists.

The government has already inaugurated the route from Dar es Salaam, the main economic centre of the country, to the island resort of Zanzibar. Further connections from Shinyanga to Maswa in the north and Mikumi to Kidatu in southern Tanzania are planned to open shortly.

TTCL is using NEC’s iPasolink 400, 1000 and 5000iPS solutions which support a hybrid TDM and IP-based mobile backhaul service. This enables the operator to continue to leverage investments in existing legacy TDM systems for voice traffic and use high speed, high capacity Ethernet for data with the option of transitioning to an all-IP network to enable highly efficient long haul transmissions in the future.

The solution can also support the expansion of LTE network services when required with minimal capacity upgrades, in addition to the 3G networks of today. It features Ethernet OAM (Operations, Administration, and Maintenance) for performance monitoring and fault isolation and troubleshooting to ensure system resilience, uptime and deliver a consistently high QoS (Quality of Service).

Makame Mbarawa, minister of communication, science and technology of Tanzania, said, "Our latest mobile infrastructure upgrades are a key part of the important work the Tanzanian government is undertaking to deliver our Vision 2025 programme and use the latest communication technologies as a tool for sustainable development.”

Wireless mobile backhaul, with onward transport via Ethernet to the core network, is essential in Africa to extend mobile broadband services to remote areas where it’s not possible to make fibre available. It helps to ensure high speed, cost-effective service coverage in difficult terrains and across geographic barriers like islands or mountains. The Dar es Salaam link supports Fast Ethernet (FE) and Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) interfaces with packet switching capacity of 40 to 48 Gigabits per second (Gbps) for rapid mobile data transfer with smart bandwidth and capacity utilization and management.

Eugene Le Roux, managing director at NEC Africa, commented, “Tanzanian citizens will see a noticeable difference in the mobile network’s capacity to handle even more web browsing and m-commerce transactions as a result of this upgrade.”

Tanzania has high mobile penetration rate of 75% as of the end of December 2013, but just 14% of people have fixed internet at home and a minority of 0.4% own a landline. Already 10% of Tanzania’s GDP is transacted through mobile commerce.