LTE services are now being provided in 24 countries across Africa and it is expected that 50% of the region’s population will have 4G access by 2018.
2015 has been an exciting year for Africa, with LTE 4G services now provided in 24 African countries, and many more operators expected to launch commercial 4G LTE services by the end of the year. As LTE subscriptions in Africa continue to grow, and with 50% of the region’s population expected to be covered by LTE networks by 2018, LTE Africa 2015 (17-19 November) will return at a time when it has never been more crucial for operators to ensure they have the best plans for the future strategic deployment of LTE networks.
Co-located with AfricaCom in CCITC Cape Town, South Africa, LTE Africa will bring together leading LTE industry experts and operators to discuss the key issue of strategic deployment for 4G LTE and VoLTE services going forward in Africa. With over 4000 operators in attendance and more operator case studies than ever before, LTE Africa will provide the best platform for sharing key information crucial for revolutionising Africa’s digital future.
Currently few African operators of 4G LTE networks have deployed Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE), the rising LTE standard for voice communication. As such, even networks offering LTE smartphones are still using GSM or 3G circuit-switched networks to carry voice traffic. The deployment of VoLTE will be one of the biggest technological advances Africa has seen, and so operators’ deployment strategies must be ready to handle this quantum leap.
Thomas Allen, COO of Smile, one of the biggest operators in Africa, will present a case study during LTE Africa on Smile’s VoLTE deployment success, ‘VoLTE Rollout in Africa’. Allen’s case study will focus on how to identify when a market is ready for VoLTE deployment; a crucial topic to share with other operators as the whole region makes plans to move forward towards deployment of VoLTE.
Riedwaan Hassiem, Executive Head of Department, Enterprise Technical Product Delivery, Vodacom South Africa is also speaking at the event. Speaking ahead of the conference, Hassiem commented: “Never before has the time and opportunity been so accessible and available to Africa to accelerate growth of epic proportions in all spheres of life, due to the explosion of broadband services across the continent. From fixed, mobile and converged services, the time for working together to bridge the technical, social and economic divide across Africa has arrived to transform every member of this continent to take its rightful place in the global village”.
Key topics that will be debated at LTE Africa will include; SDN/ NFV; device deployment; big data and networking analysis; network optimisation; HetNets; and optimising backhaul. One of the crucial panels will focus on the most important LTE services to drive consumer adoption.
Marten Scheffer, General Manager of Network Engineering, Neotel, who is speaking on ‘NFV and SDN: Hype vs. reality’ said, “NFV and SDN show enormous potential for encouraging and creating the foundations for faster deployment of services which will be critical in developing regions and economies such as Africa.”
Africa gets broadband boost
ITU and Nexpedience, a supplier of proprietary point-to-multipoint broadband infrastructure, are partnering to bring broadband access to Africa.
Under the terms of the deal, Nexpedience will provide 180 new Expedience base stations worth USD 1 million, to be deployed in six nations across the continent. The first nation to benefit from the new infrastructure is Burundi, with deployments also planned for Djibouti, Burkina Faso, Mali, Rwanda and Swaziland.
Designed to withstand extreme meteorological conditions and capable of providing up to 32 kilometres of sector coverage, Nexpedience’s base stations have been specifically designed for rural deployment.
ITU’s Wireless Broadband Network in Africa project aims to develop and implement wireless broadband connectivity and applications that will provide free or low-cost digital access for schools, hospitals, and under-served populations in rural and remote areas Africa-wide.
At the signing of the agreement in Geneva, Brahima Sanou, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) emphasized the need to make developing countries part of the global broadband revolution: ‚”This partnership represents another important element in ITU’s efforts to bring broadband technology to the world even in the poorest nations. I am confident that this new partnership will accelerate broadband uptake right across the African continent, bringing the power of high-speed connectivity to users everywhere, from big cities to small villages.‚”
Kiriako Vergos, CEO of Nexpedience said: ‚”Giving access to broadband technology to underserved populations in Africa is of great importance to us. There are enormous benefits to be derived from a ‚’broadband-seed’ deployment strategy, and we decided to partner with ITU because we know that the organization has the team in place to get it done.‚”
ITU Secretary-General Dr Hamadoun Tour√© said the new agreement is a ‚”major step forward in getting Africa connected‚”. Dr Tour√© led the establishment of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010, which has the aim of putting broadband at the heart of the global development agenda.
Nokia backs tech hubs for developing world
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev are collaborating with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America to act as scouts for local talent.
Nokia, AppCampus and infoDev, a global innovation program of the World Bank, have announced a collaboration with mobile innovation hubs across Africa, Asia and Latin America – a move that will empower these hubs to act as scouts and agents for local talent, fast-tracking their access to AppCampus funding.
AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.
The announcement earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico. The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.
‚”By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,‚” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus. ‚”Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentorship provided by these innovation hubs.‚”
The hubs and mLabs will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. infoDev’s mLabs foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, mLab-supported startups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.
‚”Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,‚” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa. ‚”The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets‚”.
The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation & Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science & Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs. Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, ‚”The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.‚”