5G is set to change the connected world not just with high speed and low latency internet, but it will also transform education, healthcare, automotive, and other sectors. All these transformations have Open RAN at its heart. In an interview with Telecom Pod, Abhishek Shukla, Head – Telco, Media and Entertainment Sales India & South Asia at Red Hat., talks about Open RAN in India and its benefits, the importance of Open RAN for ‘Make in India’ 5G solutions and their plan for the Indian market.
How do you see Open RAN technology being used by Telcos globally?
The changes in the lifestyle brought in because of the pandemic are irreversible. Digital payments, hybrid workspace, online education, shopping, etc will remain integral to our daily life. With evolving technologies requiring workloads closer to the consumers via the edge of global networks, telcos globally are seeing the benefits of Open RAN and are opting for a vendor-agnostic approach. According to a report published by Analysys Mason, service provider spending on products in the RAN market will grow to $41.3 billion in 2025 as service providers deploy 5G networks, improve their non-5G network capacity and coverage and implement vRAN. As the telecommunications industry ramps up its evolution towards cloud-native architectures and containers, communications service providers (CSPs) are working to scale their networks to support increased demand. In this effort, open radio access network (RAN) solutions offer standardized disaggregation of the RAN, decoupling hardware and software, to give CSPs more freedom of choice. ORAN would mean operators or projects utilizing 5G solutions from different vendors into the same radio network, hence lowering the barrier for entry for new vendors in this domain. The wider choice of vendors for key RAN elements and the use of general-purpose hardware in the RAN can positively impact the capital outlay of service providers.
What is the most significant benefit of Open RAN and how are Indian Telcos leveraging it to grow their business?
The focus for the Indian telecom operators for the last several years has been on optimizing costs across legacy networks and launching new services to maximize revenue without compromising on the customer experience. With 5G on the anvil, Indian operators are presented with a great opportunity to build next-generation software-defined networks and choose the right technology architecture for scale, innovation, and longevity. Open RAN with its standardized disaggregation of the RAN, decoupled hardware and software, to give CSPs more freedom of choice. With the Kubernetes-based RAN design, operators can take advantage of more secure, simple, scalable, and flexible deployments which will help to lower capital and operating expenses.
How big Open RAN will be in India? Is the technology maturing enough for commercial rollout?
In a price-sensitive market like India, telecommunication companies are constantly looking for avenues to ensure cost-effective and early deployment of services while at the same time generating additional revenue streams to stay ahead of the curve. Open RAN is still in infancy globally, so we do not have a definitive answer to this.
In India, all the network providers are also digital services providers. Open RAN will play an important role and prove to be a gamechanger. However, until the required infrastructure is deployed, a hybrid model with traditional RAN will continue to run.
How important is Open RAN for the acceleration of 5G growth in India? How important is Open RAN for ‘Make in India’ 5G solutions?
5G is set to change the connected world not just with high speed and low latency internet, but it will also transform education, healthcare, automotive, and other sectors. All these transformations have Open RAN at its heart. Open RAN will change the telecom ecosystem and will introduce the cloud and open source into the now-closed RAN systems. The very base of all the innovations will be disrupted resulting in a cascading effect on other sectors.
The members of the Open RAN alliance are working on creating ‘Make In India’ 5G solutions. All these solutions are based on the blueprint of Open RAN. Open RAN is going to be the bedrock of innovation and creativity, as it opens up opportunities for the communities to develop new and disruptive solutions.
However, for ORAN to be truly effective, no single vendor can work in isolation. It calls for an ecosystem that’s agile and dynamic. This ecosystem should be flexible enough to continually expand, eventually forming an overarching ecosystem that will reap the full benefits of ORAN.