Better mobile coverage in Africa
According to a recent study conducted by Deloitte Africa, the penetration rate of mobile Internet in Africa is expected to double between now and 2020, to reach almost 40%. However, this level cannot be achieved without the deployment of a network infrastructure that is both extensive and reliable. An equation which Orange sees as a challenge!
Mobile network: targeting growth!
The mobile network is so important in Africa, because it provides access to the Internet not only on the go, but also at home, as Yves Bellego explains. “In Africa, 3G is used to provide mobile access to the Internet, but it also provides fixed access at home by connecting a 3G dongle to a PC , in conjunction with a data plan.”
Recognizing the pivotal role of mobile networks, Orange has established major infrastructure projects in 20 countries in Africa and the Middle East. This allows the Group to reach 110 million customers and address two challenges:
- extending mobile coverage in rural areas, in order to provide Internet access to as many people as possible,
- optimizing the performance of the network, particularly through the deployment of 4G technology.
Orange has therefore started to roll out 4G in four countries: Botswana, Jordan, Morocco, and Mauritius. Other countries – such as Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt, and Algeria – are also on the verge of having a 4G network deployed within their borders.
Making terminals more accessible
To lower the cost of access to mobile telephony and to optimize access to mobile services, Orange also works in the field of mobile devices:
- by offering a full range of terminals at affordable prices on the African market, where 3G and 4G compatible mobiles are still expensive compared to local purchasing power.
- by offering a 4G terminal adapted to the characteristics of the African continent: the Rise 31 Special Edition combines all the innovative features of smartphones (3G+ and 4G browsing, Wi-Fi connection, camera, applications, MP3 player, etc.), at a minimal cost of $40.
Innovative solutions to cover a vast area
In urban areas, the mobile network is now well established and the majority of residents in large towns and cities have access to 2G and 3G coverage. In rural areas, the situation is more complex and some white zones remain.
Orange is committed to minimizing the areas not covered by its network and is developing innovative solutions to combat digital exclusion. The Group’s areas of work include reducing the cost of infrastructure in order to speed up the deployment of rural radio sites, while faced with a limited budget.
The Group has also become a partner to Google’s Project Loon, whereby helium balloons are deployed and float to an altitude of a few kilometers. Equipped with their own network, the balloons are able to extend GSM coverage and offer a 4G connection.
Together, we are stronger!
While the African fixed telephony network is underdeveloped, the same is true of the electrical grid, particularly in remote areas. Consequently, in some areas, innovative solutions must be devised to supply the mobile network’s masts with power. In December 2015, Orange announced its partnership with energy company ENGIE, with a view to co-developing devices that can supply power to mobile telephony infrastructures. Based on solar panels, this solution combines the benefits of reliability and being environmentally neutral, as Yves Bellego, Director of network strategy at Orange, notes: “This solution is optimal because it is reliable and, unlike a generator, does not require regular maintenance and refueling. Not to mention the fact that its environmental impact is quite different!”