As the telecom operators prepare for the 5G roll-out this year, the industry needs to decide whether to continue with siloed legacy network architecture or adopt the new-age virtualized, and software-centric Open RAN technology. In an interview with Telecom Pod, Arif Khan, CEO & Founder at Coredge.io, talks about Open RAN and its benefits, its importance for the acceleration of 5G growth in India, and their plan for the Indian market.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
How do you see Open RAN technology being used by Telcos globally?
Open RAN has gained widespread acceptance among telcos due to its numerous advantages. Rakuten, Vodafone, Telefonica, and MTN are just a few of the international operators with greenfield networks that have used O-RAN technology. The best example is the Japanese company Rakuten, which has already upgraded its network from 4G to 5G and has deployed more than 5,000 radio stations. Rakuten used a group of at least 18 manufacturers to supply the various network components. Rakuten was successful in acquiring more than a million users in the first three months following implementation.
The second-largest greenfield network in the world (after Rakuten) will launch in the US thanks to wireless newcomer Dish, which will rely only on O-RAN technology. This new network, which aims to reach 70% of US citizens by June 2023, will be a further test of O-carrier-grade RAN’s capabilities and is certain to identify areas that still need work.
The trials that these international companies have so far completed show that the technology has matured to the point where it is prepared for commercial deployment.
What is the biggest benefit of Open RAN and how are Indian Telcos leveraging it to grow their business?
Service providers can use Open RAN to avoid vendor lock-in while also promoting vendor diversity. Service providers do not want to install single-vendor solutions for their radio access networks, in which a single manufacturer provides both equipment and software. The Open RAN solution paves the way for a completely programmable, intelligent, and multi-vendor RAN with the help of a RAN Intelligent Controller.
Benefits of Open RAN:
- Generating new revenue opportunities
- Make network deployment easier and quicker
- Reduces the overall cost of telecom infrastructure
- Install Energy-Efficient Base Stations
- Accelerate the 5G deployment
- Automate the management of large and complex networks
Indian telecoms are considering Open RAN as a potential strategy to minimize network-related expenses and bring innovation to the RAN industry. Also, Open RAN is critical for enabling competition among radio software and hardware vendors, which drives greater innovation in the market.
The Indian government has prioritized the development of indigenous networking solutions. India has now taken another significant step toward creating an indigenous 5G ecosystem in the country. The Open RAN architecture has also allowed Indian software developers, equipment manufacturers, and system integrators to get a foothold in the global 5G industry.
By combining the correct software and hardware components, Indian telcos can further leverage the benefits of Open RAN to customize and optimize their networks.
How big Open RAN will be in India? Is the technology maturing enough for commercial rollout?
To stay ahead of the curve, telecom companies will have to offer cost-effective and early deployment of services as well as generate additional revenue streams. With an open RAN, telcos can reduce capital and operating expenditures (Capex and Opex) and offer innovative digital solutions.
Experts say that open and virtualized RANs are the future of mobile networks. By enabling Open RAN, 5G solutions can be made in India. One vendor had to supply software and hardware to telecom operators. But with Open RAN, telcos can use solutions from a variety of vendors.
“Open RAN is a hugely promising opportunity for Indian telcos as they upgrade their networks to 5G technology. They can cut network-related costs and customize their networks.” This could save telecom companies a lot of money.
In the survey, it was found that experts from large firms expect vendors to continue to rely on them since they offer end-to-end network solutions. With the effect of Covid-19, mobile users in India are no longer only dependent on mobile networks; everything from education to healthcare to entertainment to finance depends heavily on online streaming, so when talking about data usage, it was previously 14 or 15GB per month, but now, and in the future, it will be 30 to 40 GB.
So, if we talk about the onset of 5G technology, data consumption will skyrocket to a high level. Capital deployment costs will be lower, and operating expenses will be lower through automation.
Open RAN is also conducive to innovation. By using Open RAN, a telco does not need to replace network gear to introduce new features. Instead, it can update its software to speed up upgrades and innovation cycles.
How important is Open RAN for the acceleration of 5G growth in India?
Open RAN network can boost India’s telecom equipment vendor sector as Open RAN depends on open standards software; Indian software firms can guarantee the seamless operation of a telecom network despite varied hardware and software components.
We can leverage the Indian IT sector’s strengths to develop, manage, and maintain software products that will benefit both India and the global telecom business at a reasonable cost.
5G’s fundamental architecture will be open, with open interfaces, disaggregated, modular, and distributed, with data centers and programmability, automation, and security built-in. This is where Open RAN will play a significant role.
5G networks provide the ultra-low latency, capacity, and speed that innovative technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and AI-powered smart devices require. Traditional radio access networks, on the other hand, push up infrastructure costs, lower overall service quality, and limit operator innovation, making 5G less accessible and effective.
For the following reasons, many experts believe that open RAN is critical for widespread 5G networks:
- Vendor monopolies are reduced, and competition is increased, thanks to Open RAN
- Vendor lock-in is avoided with an open RAN
- Open RAN provides industry-specific and event-based support
How important is Open RAN for ‘Make in India’ 5G solutions?
It is particularly important as Open RAN is being considered by Indian telcos as a strategy for reducing network-related costs and bringing innovation to the Indian RAN markets. Furthermore, Open RAN is essential for encouraging competition among radio software and hardware suppliers in India, which leads to increased market innovation and hence contributes to the “Make in India” initiative.
Some of the companies have already begun to show progress in this direction. Developments in the field of telecommunications, such as Open RAN and software-defined networks, are providing new possibilities for Indian companies to enter the network equipment industry which will boost the Indian economy.
What are your plans for the Indian market?
Data centers are becoming multivendor ecosystems instead of buying software from vendors to host applications. Coredge provides orchestration and management solutions for modern cloud-native applications on cloud and edge platforms. CloudCompass assists in orchestrating cloud-native Open RAN workloads and provides service and Kubernetes cluster lifecycle management. It is a multi-cloud management platform that automates and unifies the process while lowering complexity and costs.
Coredge brings solutions to the Indian market with orchestration lifecycle management, modernization of cloud infrastructure, orchestration of cloud-native Open RAN workloads, applications, services, monitoring, alerts, logs monitoring, platform upgrade, installation, and configuration management, and more. Since, every business is moving towards cloud and edge technology, Coredge with its fine application and infrastructure management platform CloudCompass helps businesses and Indian markets to scale their business.