MTN Group and NEC XON, a subsidiary of NEC Corporation, announced the successful implementation of Africa’s inaugural 400G optical transponder solution, Phoenix. This groundbreaking endeavor marks a significant step for the telecommunications sector in Africa, holding the promise of transforming the landscape of optical network construction and operation, thereby revolutionizing internet delivery throughout the continent.

The introduction of the Phoenix solution represents a notable advancement in the telecom industry, with the potential to reshape networking and connectivity not only within Africa but also on a global scale.

MTN’s proactive adoption of this cutting-edge technology serves as a commendable example for other telecom operators, paving the way for enhanced, cost-effective connectivity that will ultimately benefit end-users.

Phoenix is an integral component of the Telecom Infra Project’s (TIP) Open Optical and Packet Transport (OOPT) project group, a collaborative initiative involving various telecom operators and technology providers.

The solution has successfully met the stringent testing criteria set by TIP, earning it the prestigious Controlled Environment Silver Badge, affirming its readiness for widespread deployment. This achievement underscores the commitment of MTN and NEC XON to driving innovation and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the realm of telecommunications in Africa.

“Disaggregation is the future of networking, and we are proud to be at the forefront of this evolution,” said Anthony Laing, General Manager of Networking at NEC XON. “This technology is a game-changer. It drives down costs, enhances innovation, and allows our customers to make independent hardware and software choices, which is a significant advantage in today’s competitive telecom landscape.”

To earn the Silver Badge, the Phoenix solution underwent rigorous testing, with network operators MTN and NTT Communications (NTT-Com) contributing to the execution and report submission. The field testing was conducted within MTN’s production network in South Africa, demonstrating the technology’s viability in an inter-datacenter network scenario.

“We are thrilled to receive the Silver Badge recognition from TIP, acknowledging our commitment to promoting open and disaggregated solutions with the Phoenix optical transponder,” said Sou Satou, Senior Director of the Network Solutions Business Division at NEC Corporation. “Our dedication to TIP and the development of open products in the optical transport market remains a top priority for NEC,” she added.

The deployment of Phoenix is designed to accelerate internet connectivity and optimise network operations, thereby democratising access to information. It aims to make affordable internet more widely available across Africa, fulfilling a critical societal need.

Demonstrating its commitment to innovation, MTN has embraced this state-of-the-art technology, integrating it into its production network, specifically across its optical network between Johannesburg and Centurion in South Africa, further demonstrating the technology’s interoperability and backwards compatibility.

“The deployment of Phoenix with NEC technologies is a significant step toward fulfilling a crucial promise to our customers, to deliver accessible, reliable and fast internet,” said Amith Maharaj, Executive for Network Design & Planning at MTN Group.

“This initiative is part of our ongoing efforts to embrace the latest technologies available that ultimately empower communities across Africa.”

Phoenix is a white box L0/L1 transponder that operators can seamlessly deploy on their existing optical line systems to enhance network capacity. It is based on disaggregated hardware and software components, offering line interface speeds of up to 400G. NEC’s solution comprises the NEC Network Operating System, based on Goldstone open-source software, running on Wistron’s Galileo Flex-T hardware. The Phoenix solution is interoperable with various transceivers compliant with OpenROADM and OIF specifications.

By leading in the adoption of Phoenix, MTN Group, NEC XON and NEC Corporation are setting a precedent for telecom operators worldwide, offering a scalable and cost-efficient solution that meets the burgeoning demands of a digitally connected society.


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