Ghana could be the first country in Africa to get 4G mobile technology, and Alcatel Lucent is eager to get on board
Ghana could be the first country in Africa to roll out Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, according to telecoms equipment maker Alcatel Lucent, giving it a head start over neighbouring countries and much of the developed world.
In June, Alcatel Lucent’s vice president for North, West and Central Africa, Frederic Sallet, hinted to Ghana Business News in an interview, that the company was working with mobile operators in the country with a view to launching LTE.
“We are in a lot of discussions on that subject for the Ghanaian market. And given the lead that we have on this market and the strong success that we have in the US and that we are starting to have with some operators in Europe, Middle East and Africa, I think Ghana could be a good place to start LTE,” said Sallet.
Faster speed, greater capacity
LTE is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data, based on GSM/EDGE and UMTS/HSPA network technologies. It is used primarily to support high speed mobile broadband. In October 2010, the International Telecommunication Union formally anointed LTE as one of the ‘true’ 4G technologies.
The goal of LTE is to increase the capacity and speed of wireless data networks. Research conducted by Real Wireless on behalf of the British communication regulator Ofcom earlier this year found that initial deployments of 4G will deliver more than three times the capacity of existing 3G technologies, using the same amount of spectrum.
There are currently six licensed mobile operators in Ghana – MTN, Tigo, Vodafone, Aitel, Expresso and Globacom – all of whom provide GSM-based mobile services. Alcatel Lucent works closely with Vodafone (which bought the previous incumbent Ghana Telecom a few years ago) and Globacom, and recently developed a mobile advertisement platform for Tigo.
According to Cenk Kivilcim (pictured), Alcatel’s country senior officer for Nigeria and Ghana, while the company is keen to start deploying LTE in the country, it will depend on which operators are awarded 4G licenses.
“The Minister for Communications has the desire to improve the telecoms infrastructure in Ghana drastically, and that’s the reason they want to lead on LTE deployment,” said Kivilcim, speaking to eWEEK Europe. “But at the same time they would like to see Ghanaian companies contribute to the telecom landscape, and therefore they are requesting that a Ghanaian-owned company gets the LTE.
“Of course, all the operators are interested in getting access to LTE services, and a number of operators are now trying to understand the capabilities of LTE; so they are engaging vendors like Alcatel Lucent to carry out trials,” he said. “This is at this moment the engagement we have in Ghana.
“When operators have access to the licenses, and when they are ready to push it on the commercial deployments, Alcatel Lucent is in a very strong position,” Kivilcim added.
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