NEC Corporation is upgrading microwave links on behalf of the Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL) connecting six key rural and island locations in the country to double mobile network capacity and meet demand from local citizens, enterprises and tourists in a deal worth US $1.6 million.
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. We’re pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with NEC to support the needs of communities and entrepreneurial businesses throughout the country.”
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. NEC has been providing innovative technologies to Tanzania Telecommunications Company for over forty years and we’re delighted their customers will continue to benefit from our latest high speed, future-proofed mobile backhaul solutions.”
Demand for mobile broadband is growing strongly to support key industries like agriculture, giving businesses access to market prices, weather forecasts and agronomy information at the touch of a button. This is in addition to enabling rural populations to access to public services like a new birth registration website to support accurate assessments of local demand for education and social services.
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 according to Budde.com. Already 10% of Tanzania’s GDP is transacted through mobile commerce.
NEC has supplied been supplying telecom technologies to TTCL since 1972, including over 29,000 microwave backhaul radio units to date. TTCL is majority owned by the Tanzanian government with a 35% stake held by the Indian-headquartered operator Airtel.