Alcatel-Lucent to bring ultra-broadband revolution in Africa

PhilippeFrance-based telecom equipment firm Alcatel-Lucent will focus on ultra-broadband and IP network market to strengthen its presence in Africa

Philippe Poggianti, EMEA business development vice-president, wireless division Alcatel-Lucent, said, “Our shift plan strategy perfectly meets the connectivity challenges of the African continent, as it rapidly adopts new technologies especially LTE, and leapfrogs the rollout of legacy technologies yet to be introduced here.

“The shift is focusing Alcatel-Lucent on two major areas — ultra-broadband (fixed, DSL, GPON and mobile LTE) and IP routing and transport. Both of these directions are fully in line with what the market needs in Africa today and in the years to come and what our customers are requesting from us already today.”

Poggianti added that their business in Africa has been very strongly aligned to ‘The Shift Plan’ and, in particular, with ultra-broadband access where LTE growth is more than matching more developed economies. “For example, in LTE we have seen a serious number of new operators, which have discovered the market niche of providing broadband access via LTE mostly in areas where no strong fixed broadband exists. On mobile broadband we have contracted so far more than ten LTE rollouts in Africa with established mobile operators as well with fixed wireless broadband operators. For example Smile in Tanzania, Uganda and Nigeria and Surfline in Ghana and Yoomee in Côte d’Ivoire.”

Discussing connectivity issues in Africa, the V-P revealed that the company’s submarine cables has made good progress by connecting people to regional hubs but the connectivity to smaller places and rural areas was still poor. “The focus of Alcatel-Lucent’s strategy for Africa will continue to develop ultra-broadband access networks in Africa and bringing this connectivity to the users via LTE, DSL, GPON and Wi-Fi as main technologies.”

According to Poggianti, among the many terrestrial backbone projects that Alcatel-Lucent has been building over the last few years, for example, was Airtel Africa’s IP/MPLS backbone (IP routing and transport), which connected Airtel’s 17 affiliates across Africa. “We help Airtel meet the growing demand for mobile broadband services in its African operations by supplying advanced new IP-based networking technology to support the delivery of new mobile broadband data and video services.”

Poggianti also revealed that another challenge for Alcatel-Lucent in Africa was fixed line transformation – moving from old voice networks to new data networks, providing capacity and services required in the next few years. “Telkom is one of the largest communications companies in South Africa working on expanding the availability of fast broadband rollout, which is the biggest fixed broadband project on the continent,” he added.

Alcatel-Lucent was selected in 2012 for Telkom’s Network Transformation Initiative, which included upgrading the existing access network with new-generation VDSL2 technology to serve four million subscribers. The project also included the introduction of GPON technology to support fiber-to-the-home (FTTH).

“These technologies will be the key enablers for potential future services such as video on demand and IPTV. We are also providing Telkom with our Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM) product family, which supports PON and DSL on the same platform,” Poggianti added.

In October 2014, Alcatel-Lucent had announced that together with MTN Nigeria it will boost connectivity with ultra-broadband 100G fibre-optic data network.

During AfricaCom 2014 in Cape Town, South Africa, Alcatel-Lucent had revealed the deal with Liquid Telecom to provide the operator with various GPON and DWDM technologies for the expansion of its networks in Kenya and Uganda. The DWDM upgrades enabled Liquid Telecom to add capacity needed to meet the demand for broadband services as well as address new markets and business opportunities. “The technology will be used to provide the home and small office markets with high speed Internet services,” explained Poggianti.

Liquid Telecom has deployed GPON technology supplied by Alcatel-Lucent in Nairobi, Kenya. The company will also install DWDM enhancements in Nairobi and Mombasa.

Alcatel-Lucent has been providing its 7360 ISAM FX and 5520 Access Management System to support GPON-enabled fibre-to-the-home as well as its IP transport product family including the 1626 LM to support the DWDM in the southern African cities.

“Africa is in need of affordable connectivity, which is essential for its social and economic development. Increasing the availability of high-bandwidth connections is crucial for Africa’s future development. In addition, the Internet is becoming an important catalyst for change, development and innovation,” noted the V-P.

Alcatel-Lucent has a strong presence in Africa connected to its global organisation — leveraging central support, global expertise and ensuring best practices with dedicated teams with local knowledge on the ground in many African countries specialised in a wide array of technologies for both wireless and fixed communications including ultra-broadband access, optics and IP technologies as well as deployment services.

These experts has been working with service providers, governments, business and partners, which form an efficient eco-system to develop and introduce new technologies and solutions to ensure growth and capture business opportunities – with the ultimate goal of bringing broadband to the people of Africa.

Sara Frewen

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