The Ghanaian government wants to provide mobile telephony to over 1,000 communities that have no mobile signals. The Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) has selected Parallel Wireless, a US-based company, to lead the effort. Parallel Wireless will use an interesting approach called OpenRAN to connect communities to 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G networks. OpenRAN standardises the design of hardware and software used in masts, antennae and other telecom infrastructure.
It allows telcos to source components from many companies rather than a small number of vendors (Huawei, Ericsson) and their closed systems. In turn, network development becomes cheaper. OpenRAN is relatively new, but it is gradually getting support. Vodafone is already using the technology in countries like DR Congo and Mozambique.
Mobile use in Africa
Africa is the most digitally divided continent with only 44% unique mobile users. Though Ghana has one of the more competitive telecom markets in the region, there are about 1,020 communities without mobile signals.
Traditional 2G, 3G or 4G networks require expensive and bulky equipment to deploy and operate in these communities. These hardware-based networks are difficult and pricey to upgrade.
The connection plan
U.S.-based OpenRAN provider, Parallel Wireless, announced its selection by the GIFEC to provide mobile telephony connectivity to underserved and unserved communities in Ghana. GIFEC is a special Fund set up by the Government of Ghana and designed to provide telecommunications and ICT services to deprived communities in the country.
Through software-based, and virtualized OpenRAN network architectures, Parallel Wireless will help to deliver cost-effective and scalable 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G networks across the country.
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Abraham Kofi Asante, Administrator for GIFEC, explained, “The ultimate objective of this project is to achieve 100% mobile telephone service coverage throughout Ghana by working in close partnership with the Mobile Network operators (MNOs).”
The Parallel Wireless OpenRAN has already greatly improved quality of service and cost benefits on six continents. This has been achieved through mature OpenRAN RRUs, COTS-based vBBU for scalable capacity and specialised controller software, lowering costs through simplification.
Christoph Fitih, Sales Director, Africa, of Parallel Wireless, shared his enthusiasm, “UASF is building an ecosystem to enable digital transformation to support government and private sector goals and we are excited to help them to achieve their mission. This project will ultimately open up our communities for development and economically empower the people. It will attract tourists, knowing that they will not be entirely cut off from the rest of the world because of poor network services when they visit.”