If technology is “mature enough,” Vi may implement O-RAN

According to a top executive of the telecom operator, Vodafone Idea is open to undertaking additional Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) pilots and may explore implementing networks based on the technology once it is sufficiently developed.

A network can be built using Open RAN technology without vendor lock-in by first disaggregating the network’s components, which can then be purchased from different vendors and assembled by a system integrator (SI). According to experts, the technology can help carriers reduce their Capex and Opex costs, and Open RAN has begun to gain traction internationally in the form of commercial deployments.

According to the CTO, an Open RAN system’s radio network is less efficient without SI optimizations.

Reliance Jio and Bharti Airtel, the third-ranked telco’s competitors, want to implement Open RAN initiatives in the medium- to long-term. While Jio is putting forward its effort, Airtel is collaborating with several partners to create an Open RAN stack.

In contrast, Vodafone Idea has repeatedly stated that it will launch its 5G network soon without providing a date. Jio and Airtel have awarded their 5G equipment contracts to Swedish Ericsson, Finnish Nokia, and South Korean Samsung, and network rollouts are currently underway.

The Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) provider Cloudextel, which delivers small cells for Vodafone Idea and Airtel, thinks that Open RAN will serve as a “counterbalance” to the monolithic stack of the current providers.

Open RAN is going to be able to bring a counterweight to the monolithic stack of the incumbent suppliers, and the potential for startups and other actors in the ecosystem to develop specialised solutions that function in different areas of the overall stack. You will have the chance to perform slicing and enterprise apps, especially with 5G, said an official from CloudExtel.

In contrast to industrialised markets where it is being implemented for cost savings, Open RAN is not yet mature enough for India and it will be focused on promoting innovation in emerging areas.

According to Accenture, a new technology’s ability to be adopted hinges on whether or not it has a strong business case.

Accenture created telco solution boxes on top of O-RAN solutions by collaborating with telcos and engineering companies with their O-RAN partners. But if a telco sees a 10% difference in profitability between an O-RAN solution and an existing solution that can be moved to the cloud, they are unable to choose them.