Africa News Bulletin

NEC XON and MTN launch Africa’s first 400G optical transponder

MTN Group and NEC XON have announce the successful deployment of Africa’s first 400G optical transponder solution, Phoenix. This initiative marks a significant milestone for the telecommunications industry in Africa, with the potential to revolutionise the way optical networks are built and operated, thereby transforming internet delivery across the continent.

The Phoenix solution marks a significant step forward in the telecom industry, with the potential to revolutionise networking and connectivity across Africa and beyond. By leading the way in adopting this innovative technology, MTN sets a remarkable example for other telecom operators to follow, ultimately benefiting customers with improved, cost-effective connectivity.

Phoenix is part of the Telecom Infra Project’s (TIP) Open Optical and Packet Transport (OOPT) project group, a collaborative effort involving multiple telecom operators and technology providers. The solution has met TIP’s rigorous test requirements, earning it a Controlled Environment Silver Badge, indicative of its readiness for deployment.

“Disaggregation is the future of networking, and we are proud to be at the forefront of this evolution,” said Anthony Laing, General Manager of Networking at NEC XON. “This technology is a game-changer. It drives down costs, enhances innovation, and allows our customers to make independent hardware and software choices, which is a significant advantage in today’s competitive telecom landscape.”

Key Benefits of the Phoenix Solution include faster, more affordable networks with broader coverage, increased access to affordable connectivity across Africa, lower prices, improved services, and more options for end-users and disaggregation is the key to fostering healthy competition in the telecom sector.

To earn the Silver Badge, the Phoenix solution underwent rigorous testing, with network operators MTN and NTT Communications (NTT-Com) contributing to the execution and report submission. The field testing was conducted within MTN’s production network in South Africa, demonstrating the technology’s viability in an inter-datacenter network scenario.

“We are thrilled to receive the Silver Badge recognition from TIP, acknowledging our commitment to promoting open and disaggregated solutions with the Phoenix optical transponder,” said Sou Satou, Senior Director of the Network Solutions Business Division at NEC Corporation. “Our dedication to TIP and the development of open products in the optical transport market remains a top priority for NEC,” she added.

The deployment of Phoenix is designed to accelerate internet connectivity and optimise network operations, thereby democratising access to information. It aims to make affordable internet more widely available across Africa, fulfilling a critical societal need.

Demonstrating its commitment to innovation, MTN has embraced this state-of-the-art technology, integrating it into its production network, specifically across its optical network between Johannesburg and Centurion in South Africa, further demonstrating the technology’s interoperability and backwards compatibility.

“The deployment of Phoenix with NEC technologies is a significant step toward fulfilling a crucial promise to our customers, to deliver accessible, reliable and fast internet,” said Amith Maharaj, Executive for Network Design & Planning at MTN Group. “This initiative is part of our ongoing efforts to embrace the latest technologies available that ultimately empower communities across Africa.”

Phoenix is a white box L0/L1 transponder that operators can seamlessly deploy on their existing optical line systems to enhance network capacity. It is based on disaggregated hardware and software components, offering line interface speeds of up to 400G. NEC’s solution comprises the NEC Network Operating System, based on Goldstone open-source software, running on Wistron’s Galileo Flex-T hardware. The Phoenix solution is interoperable with various transceivers compliant with OpenROADM and OIF specifications.

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