Indian operator Bharti Airtel has signed a five-year managed services agreement with vendor Ericsson for its African operations.
Under the agreement, Ericsson will manage and optimise Airtel's mobile networks in Africa, allowing the telco to focus on customer service.
Under a separate two year agreement, Ericsson will modernise and upgrade Airtel's mobile networks in Africa with technology including its multi standard RBS 6000 base station, which incorporates 2G, 3G and HSPA standards.
As part of the upgrade, Ericsson will also provide technology consulting, network planning and design, and network deployment.
Manoj Kohli, CEO international, Bharti Airtel, said that Ericsson’s latest generation of technology would help reduce the opex of its African operations. He added that the telco already has similar managed services agreements with Ericsson in Asia.
Hans Vestberg, president and CEO, Ericsson, said: “This deal will allow us to assist Airtel with the complex task of managing operations in multiple countries. It also provides an opportunity for us to extend our managed services into new, untapped African markets.”
Earlier in the month, Airtel, which serves some 44 million customer in Africa, signed a 10-year agreement with IBM to provide IT solutions to employees of its 16 African operations.
Since acquiring most of the African operations of Zain Group last year, Airtel has been quick to outsource the management of various parts of its network, as it seeks a low-cost model to compete in the continent’s notoriously low-ARPU markets.