Known as ‘the land of a thousand hills’, Rwanda is a country with a fast-growing economy. Rwanda has a relatively low penetration rate compared to its East African neighbors and there is great scope for further growth in the telecoms sector.
Rwanda’s number one operator has maintained its prime position because it continually invests in updating its technology to meet capacity demands from its users. In addition, the operator offers advanced communication services in a simple, accessible way.
The market however is tough, and to grasp the growth opportunities in this developing country, MTN Rwandacell wanted to offer service differentiation. The operator worked with its long-term partner Ericsson to transform its network into an IP-based converged architecture, migrating all its subscribers to a common IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) platform. This enables it to offer advanced, high-quality services to its subscribers on both prepaid and postpaid plans.
Issa Nkusi, Data Manager, MTN Rwandacell explains the benefits of the IMS system: “From a technical point of view, the IMS platform will allow the easy penetration of fixed line and multimedia services as well as providing improved services to consumers.”
Ericsson supplied an end-to-end solution that included the core network, charging system, radio access and transmission as well as support services. The deployment incorporated Multimedia Telephony (MMTel) services based on IMS. The integration of the IMS-based solution combined with the mobile core network allows the traffic to flow from the IMS domain to the mobile domain. Ericsson also integrated MMTel prepaid charging, enabling IMS prepaid functionality in the network.
This marked a major milestone, as the world’s first integration of MMTel with a charging system that provides the same services for prepaid and postpaid subscribers.
Rami Farah, Chief Technical Officer, MTN Rwandacell explains the reasons for Ericsson’s selection: “Ericsson is the partner for MTN. Our relationship goes back years and years. Ericsson showed us commitment and showed us that they are ready to help the customer in any case to maintain this leadership and position in the market.”
The MMTel solution opens up a new stream of business for MTN Rwandacell. The operator can now provide high quality chat, presence and video communication services through all types of access. This includes mobile networks, public WiFi hotspots and fixed broadband networks, even outside Rwanda. This convergence of services is a key differentiator in Rwanda’s competitive market.
Paul Raine, Key Account Manager, Ericsson describes the future possibilities afforded by the solution: “By installing an IMS platform it’s opening up a whole new market. This gives them a lot of opportunities in both the fixed and mobile sides, which really puts them ahead in future development of new products. Rwanda is leading the way in IMS in world terms, so that’s something to be proud of.”
MTN Rwandacell is part of the MTN group, a major communications organization operating in Africa and the Middle East. It is the leading operator in Rwanda with a subscriber base of over 2 million and almost 77 percent market share.
MTN Rwandacell is a fixed line operator as well as a provider of GSM and internet services.
Offer advanced, high-quality services to subscribers on prepaid and postpaid, mobile and fixed
Provide service differentiation from other operators on the market
Users have equal opportunities to use chat, presence and video communication on mobile and fixed networks
Freedom and mobility for subscribers who can use the mobile network, WiFi or a fixed broadband network
The first company in Africa to commercially deploy multimedia services based on MMTel on IMS
Smooth system integration allows network transformation without affecting users, while simplifying and speeding up the introduction of new services and technologies
Jean-Paul Hakizimana is the IT manager for a busy airline in Rwanda. As head of the department, he must manage and organise staff, assist in the planning and implementation of new systems and ensure that the company’s IT infrastructure is secure.
“By nature, working in an airline requires advanced communication every day,” says Jean-Paul. “We send a large number of passengers all over the world and the IT system must handle a lot of information.”
To make the process as efficient as possible, the airline chose to introduce an IMS system, enabling it to combine its existing communication system with more productive information services.
This makes Jean-Paul’s daily activities much easier: “When an aircraft takes off or lands we send an instant message to the destination confirming the journey. This information is in the system but some airlines prefer using instant messaging. With IMS this can be sent easily, ensuring maximum communication between all companies and locations.”
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