NEW DELHI: NEC Corporation said it is working closely with the Indian telecom operators to explore the possibility to commercially deploy OpenRAN technology for their 5G networks. It added that a “couple” of Indian telecom operators are looking to adopt the new technology to take the marquee position in the Indian telecom market.
The Japanese tech major said that OpenRAN will be a challenger network technology in India, especially for high-speed 5G networks.
“...there are a couple of operators that, because of the marquee position they want to take in India, are slightly ahead in both ambition and in terms of aggression. So, we expect that ORAN will definitely be a challenger technology in India. And, possibly can also change the entire landscape of how the infrastructure is operated and maintained in the country,” Aalok Kumar, President & CEO, NEC India told ET.
Indian telco, Kumar said, are currently exploring how they could optimize their investment and the compatibility of the new technology to their legacy network.
NEC recently set up an OpenRAN laboratory in India as a complement to its Center of Excellence (CoE) in the U.K to accelerate development of the 5G open ecosystem.
Kumar said that the CoE was established not just for global, but for the Indian market as well. “We believe that the European market and North American market and the Indian subcontinent will probably be the most attractive 5G and OpenRAN opportunity in the coming year. The CoE is for the first five or six big opportunities globally.
Sandeep Sudeep, vice president of telecom business at NEC Corporation said that the company is already working with Japanese telco Rakuten Mobile and has already deployed its OpenRAN solutions. “...our product is practically ready for the Indian market.”
Bharti Airtel,Vodafone Idea and Reliance Jio are increasingly looking to expand their telecom gear supplier options beyond traditional equipment vendors by using Open Radio Access Networks (OpenRAN) technology. The adoption of OpenRAN technology will help these telcos cut network-related costs and allow them to bring more customization as they upgrade their networks for 5G technology.
Jio and Airtel are also looking to adopt the new technology to develop their own 5G equipment and solutions in the country. While Jio is developing everything on its own, Airtel is planning to partner with various vendors from the US, Japan and India.
Both Jio and Airtel have ambitions to take their 5G solutions to the global market in future.
On telcos’ strategy to develop gear using the OpenRAN technology, Kumar said, “This technology is going to actually open the doors, not just in terms of technology disruption, but also business model disruption.”
“Needless to say, you can build all of that, but it is not wise for any operator to be purely looking at becoming a hardware software and infrastructure provider,” Kumar added.
NEC said that its talent pool in India has already been developing multiple solutions for the global market and also played a “very pivotal role” in deploying the first OpenRAN landscapewith Rakuten in Japan.
The company said that its main system integration facility in India will open the doors for local innovations with the help of home-grown companies which can be incubated.
“A lot of system engineering capability is being built in India around that and definitely that is going to help not only do the activities for system integration for the global market, but it opens the doors for even local innovations, local Indian companies to be incubated, through that center,” said Yogarajah Gopikrishna, General Manager, Network Solutions Division at NEC Europe.
“India and our resource pool in India have gone really up the value chain..a lot of the key technology talent is more readily available from our Indian team. They are participating in a lot of very advanced work in system integration and radio integration,” Gopikrisha added.