Ivory Coast has a mobile penetration rate of about 80%. (Image: Soucelight.org) Ivory Coast has a mobile penetration rate of about 80%. (Image: Soucelight.org)

Atlantique Telecom, Etisalat’s operation in Ivory Coast, has selected Ericsson to deploy a 3G network in the country.

The network rollout started in October and is due to be completed by the end of 2012, according to Ericsson.

Under the contract, Ericsson will deliver its RBS 6000 Family base stations with up to 42Mbps HSPA technology and modernised circuit and packet core nodes, as well as the related migration of part of Atlantique’s existing transmission network to IP.

Atlantique Telecom, which currently runs 2G services under the MOOV brand, launched services in 2006 and now has about 4 million subscribers.

Ahmet Cisse, CEO, Atlantique Telecom, said: “With our newly acquired 3G license and Ericsson’s support in quick deployment, we will be able to offer industry-leading 3G technology and services to our subscribers in Ivory Coast. For the introduction phase, subscribers can benefit from up to 42Mbps fast mobile broadband in the main cities, Abidjan, San pedro, Yamoussoukro and Bouake.”
Gunter Van Beneden, country manager, Ericsson Ivory Coast, added. “With 3G, users will enjoy a true broadband experience that creates business opportunities and enhanced telecommunication services for the society.”

Ivory Coast has a population of 22 million people and a mobile penetration rate of about 80%. Due to its underdeveloped fixed communication infrastructure, there is growing need for basic internet connectivity via mobile broadband network, according to Ericsson.

Ivory Coast has become a highly competitive market in recent years. Its telecoms sector is dominated by South Africa’s MTN and French operator, Orange. The launch of three more GSM networks between 2006 and 2008 – including MOOV – accelerated the growth of mobile and pushed mobile market penetration well above the African average, according to Australian research firm, BuddeComm.

Two additional operators have also been licenced and are preparing to enter the market, but problems with frequency spectrum allocation have caused delays. “Some consolidation can be expected in this crowded market in the future,” BuddeComm added in a research note.