Ericsson has signed its first managed rural coverage deal with MTN, bringing mobile coverage as a service to parts of central and northern Benin in West Africa where there was none previously.
The company said managed rural coverage is a cost-competitive solution which 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 associated with building a microwave backhaul network 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: "The overall mission of the MTN Group is to make our customers' lives a whole lot brighter, and that starts with the basics of providing mobile coverage. We're always interested in finding new ways of connecting people from all walks of life in Benin.
“What matters to Benin, matters to us, and with Ericsson's help, we are now able to provide mobile coverage in areas where it previously did not exist. 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. We're keeping true to our promise of leading the way and welcoming everyone into the bold new digital world."
Jean-Claude Geha, Vice President and Head of Managed Services at Ericsson, said: "Managed rural coverage is a new business model and it's great that we can now announce our first contract with the leading operator not just in Benin, but in Africa as a whole.