Maroc Telecom, Morocco, delivers connectivity for all with a cost efficient expansion solution.
Joining forces with Ericsson, Maroc Telecom widens its customer base in Morocco, bringing services to rural areas through innovative solar powered site solutions.
Maroc Telecom is Morocco’s incumbent operator, and the country’s market leader in fixed-line and mobile telecommunications, as well as internet access. The market in Morocco is varied, with many remote areas still not gaining access to mobile communication. With a stable leadership in the market, the operator recognized the opportunities to capitalize on these high growth areas with a cost efficient solution.
Ericsson and Maroc Telecom had an existing relationship, which meant that when it came to putting its growth strategy in the southern region of Morocco into place, the operator chose Ericsson as its partner of choice. To meet Maroc Telecom's complex needs, Ericsson delivered a network optimization program, including a complete turnkey GSM radio network and MINI-LINK™. As the additional coverage did not need to serve a wide area, the operator was able to reduce costs by installing an energy efficient micro-base station, which is also suitable for solar panel operation. A unique part of this project was the delivery of Ericsson's innovative solar cell solution. This is the first implementation of the solution and it has enabled the operator to achieve its growth, while boosting its environmental credentials and maintaining low OPEX. The solar site solution is an autonomous site, which can be used to cover areas where AC mains power supply is an expensive option. The site is provided solely by Ericsson and includes RBS, passive antennas, MINI-LINK™, solar panels, battery back-up and anti-collision lights. Through this solution and regular network audits, trusted and reliable partner Ericsson has been available to smooth the way and minimize the risks associated with growth.
Environmental concerns are increasingly important to any organization and, as energy prices soar, operators need to take stock of their costs as well as considering environmental and social responsibilities. Ericsson's solutions portfolio demonstrates an ability to apply these principles in practice, through improved network design and site optimization, making it a completely viable option for operators.
Rachid Chihani, Country Manager, Ericsson, Morocco, explains what the solution offers for the operator: "The solar site solution is a self-contained system, which provides low cost operations in rural areas. Maroc Telecom would not have been able to achieve its expansion any other way without having electricity drawn into the area and this would not have been cost effective."
Initially, reducing OPEX was the key consideration for Maroc Telecom, and the benefits from this solution have met and far exceeded this expectation. The rollout of the network has been fast, enabling Maroc Telecom to implement services quickly and bring new subscribers in without delay or interruption. The operator is now able to offer extended coverage, giving subscribers access to services on the move, as well as providing spot coverage in previously inaccessible areas. This presents significant new opportunities for Maroc Telecom, and the fact that the micro-base stations offer a relatively low capacity increase, means that it comes at a low cost. In addition, the solution boasts environmentally friendly credentials, which place the operator ahead in a market where many operators may not yet have realized the benefits of sustainable energy.
The fact that Maroc Telecom has made connectivity a reality in parts of the country where mobile communication has until now been a dream, will change the way that many people live their lives. Many subscribers will be experiencing this level of communication for the first time and, for existing subscribers, it means that they can now keep in contact with friends and relatives who were previously unreachable.
Opening up communications to inaccessible areas of the world or bridging the digital divide is a key concern for many operators today. One of the visions of Ericsson's Communications Expander proposition is to address this issue, bringing communication to people around the world. The solar site is just one part of the Communications Expander portfolio helping to make this a reality. Rachid Chihani explains: "A key benefit for sure is the economy. But, having the site also makes it possible for rural areas to create their own economy, be connected with the cities and with the rest of the world."
For Maroc Telecom, this solution creates a very strong competitive position for the future. The operator's ambitious strategy to move into non-serviced areas in a short timescale could not have been achieved on a limited budget without this solution. The result is that Maroc Telecom is able to offer something completely new on the market and has the potential to grow its subscriber numbers significantly.
Ericsson's network means that the operator can cope with this growth and the solar site solution means that it is able to rollout new services to new areas while improving OPEX. Mohamed Ghanim, Radio Engineering and Optimization Manager, Maroc Telecom, explains where he feels the key benefits lie: "Solar sites are installed in remote areas which are not covered by the electric network. The main advantage is that they make it possible to use solar energy instead of diesel generators, which require fuel and resources to transport the fuel. So, it's a strong economic solution in terms of OPEX."
Maroc Telecom is one of the first operators to use a network incorporating solar sites, so this is a groundbreaking project. The success of the sites is reliant on many facts which were taken into account at the planning stages, including topography and terrain, which can affect coverage and range. Despite this, the implementation has run very smoothly and customer satisfaction was rated at 100 percent in 2006. This is a really important project for Ericsson and, as a reliable proof-point for the successful deployment of solar networks, for the telecommunications industry as a whole. Mohamed Ghanim sums up his views on the project:
"Ericsson has worked very closely with us on this project, implementing a forward thinking solution which meets our needs and adds to the quality of life of our subscribers."
Customer: Maroc Telecom, Morocco