MTN and Omnispace team up to enhance Africa's 5G connectivity

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March 13, 2024
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2 min read
Photo by Markus Winkler: https://www.pexels.com/photo/people-water-space-building-11361962/

The news: 

  • Omnispace, a US satellite broadband service provider, has announced a partnership with MTN Group to improve the mobile telco operator’s mobile network on the continent.
  • The satellite company explained that it will integrate its non-terrestrial network (NTN) with MTN’s terrestrial mobile networks while utilising 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) mobile standards to provide connectivity services to mobile consumers and enterprise internet-of-things (IoT) customers across African markets where MTN operates. 
  • Omnispace CEO Ram Viswanathan stated that the partnership provides "access to secure, cost-effective, ubiquitous 5G mobile connectivity."

The 3GPP is a consortium of seven telecommunications standard development organisations that create connectivity standards for mobile networks that can interoperate with traditional radio and other forms of digital communication.

According to a statement published on Omnispace's website, the partnership is consistent with the two telecom companies' shared commitment to developing affordable global connectivity solutions beyond the scope of cellular and land-based networks. 

Following the completion of testing the existing technology to determine capabilities and use cases using Omnispace's on-orbit satellites, the US satellite company will develop a standards-based mobile and IoT network to serve MTN markets.

Additionally, both companies will collaborate to develop and maintain a viable ecosystem of devices and software.

Omnispace expresses delight at the prospect of working with MTN on this task and looks forward to how their collaboration can deliver the "first-of-its-kind, 3GPP standards-based solution to add non-terrestrial network connectivity to a large ecosystem of compatible devices, products, and applications." 

MTN Group's Chief Technology and Information Officer, Mazen Mroué, stated that the collaboration will help the mobile telecom company provide more consistent, reliable access to its network. 

The telco also expects it to strengthen the foundational infrastructure that will lead to a digitally inclusive future for its customers, giving them access to the benefits of a modern connected lifestyle. 

The idea that low-Earth orbit satellites is a cost-effective method of overcoming universal coverage challenges has led to a growing wave of partnerships between mobile operators and satellite broadband providers. 

In 2023, MTN Group announced its partnership with multiple satellite communication companies, including OneWeb, Starlink, Lynk Global, and AST SpaceMobile, to expand Internet connectivity to rural Africa.

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In January 2024, telecom service provider Paratus South Africa disclosed it was collaborating with low earth orbit satellite (LEO) operator Eutelsat OneWeb to launch new connectivity services in South Africa.Besides, Lynk Global's satellite-to-phone solution is in partnership with Vodacom Ghana.

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