Ericsson has signed its first Managed Rural Coverage deal with MTN, bringing mobile coverage as a service to parts of central and northern Benin where there was none previously.
Managed Rural Coverage is a cost-competitive solution whereby Ericsson enables operators to provide mobile coverage for a set period according to service level agreements and defined key performance indicators. In this case, Ericsson and MTN Benin have signed an agreement for five years.
Despite the rapid growth in mobile communications, commercially viable business models are still lacking in many rural areas. As a result, some 2.4 billion people still do not have access to the internet. Under the terms of this contract, access will be provided via low-power consumption Ericsson radio base stations running on solar energy to avoid the high costs and emissions associated with diesel generators. Transmission will be provided via satellite to avoid the high costs and civil works typical to building microwave backhaul networks in remote villages. In this way, it was possible to create a business model to provide mobile coverage to parts of Benin where people have to survive on less than 2 dollars a day.
Stephen Blewett, CEO of MTN Benin, said: "This connectivity allows people in these areas to communicate with family, friends and acquaintances which they previously could not do. We are also proud to see members of these communities establishing themselves as MTN Mobile Money agents.”
Jean-Claude Geha, Vice President and Head of Managed Services at Ericsson, says: "Ericsson's Networked Society vision calls for us to connect the unconnected because we believe that access to communication is a basic human need, and Managed Rural Coverage allows us to do just that. We believe people in rural parts of Benin will benefit greatly from their newfound mobile connectivity, which greatly increases access to information and services that support health, education and small businesses."
MTN Benin has been an Ericsson customer since 1999, with Ericsson serving as the sole supplier of core, packet core, radio, transmission and charging system nodes. In January, Ericsson and MTN Benin announced a partnership to retrieve and safely dispose of electronic equipment that has reached end of life.