Open RAN is emerging as a promising alternative to the traditional RAN architecture given its potential in bringing down the network-related costs of telecom operators. In an interview with Telecom Pod, John Baker Senior Vice President, Business Development at Mavenir, talks about Open RAN and its benefits, how Mavenir’s Cloud-Native Open RAN approach is disrupting the traditional telecom equipment market and their plan for the Indian market.
Here are the excerpts from the interview:
Is Open RAN the beginning of a new age in the Telecoms industry as a whole, which has traditionally been dominated by very large vendors and operators?
Yes, It is the future of mobile networks. Historically, RAN vendors used proprietary interfaces with tightly coupled hardware and software, where operators are heavily dependent on their vendors for advances and upgrades. This global dependency has hindered their ability to innovate and resulted in vendor lock-in and higher total cost of ownership (TCO). Today radio access networks (RAN) are on the cusp of change due to the Open RAN movement that brings together vendors, software developers, telcos, and more to develop new RAN architectures based on, virtualization and open interfaces. Open RAN is a vendor-neutral disaggregation of RAN at both the hardware and software levels. It breaks all proprietary bonds between hardware, virtualized components, and even software, exposing all interfaces and connections. This deconstruction provides an open playground for true innovation. It is an important opportunity and a huge area of commercial interest. It could lead to substantial savings for telecom operators. The combination of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and standards-driven solutions is expected to offer operators a significant gain in CAPEX reduction. The traditional RAN domain is the most expensive part of a mobile network, representing 65 to 70 percent of its total cost. According to Deloitte, Open RAN can reduce CAPEX by 40 to 50 percent. The open standard promotes faster innovation cycles, improves supply chain diversity, and encourages automation of network operations to enable a lower overall network TCO.
What is the biggest benefit of Open RAN and how are Indian telcos leveraging it to grow their business?
Open RAN’s biggest benefits are cost savings and application flexibility, which are not possible with traditional architecture. Open RAN means building a real multi-vendor network with no vendor lock-in.
India’s telecom ecosystem will grow with the help of Open RAN, as it will invoke not just innovation on the supplier ecosystem front, but since for proprietary RAN, the world has shrunk to a couple of suppliers, we will need to open up this ecosystem for more innovation and new suppliers to participate. Open RAN as a concept enables hardware and software to be disaggregated, unlike conventional radio systems, allowing technology products from different suppliers to co-exist and interoperate. Indian telcos are eyeing Open RAN as a viable method to cut network-related costs and bring in more innovation as they upgrade their networks to 5G technology.
How Mavenir’s Cloud-Native Open RAN approach is disrupting the traditional telecom equipment market?
There are a lot of opportunities that 5G presents for innovation in the areas of cloud and application security, intelligent data routing, real-time applications and IoT. We are carefully evaluating where it makes sense for us to invest in new areas complementing our existing products in the short-term to mid-term, and we are confident of delivering value with our plans for the foreseeable future to our customers.
Mavenir is leveraging its past strengths in virtualization and cloud-native software to lead the industry in the softwarization of RAN networks. We are enabling new players to enter the market traditionally controlled by three vendors and bring innovation and disruption by widening the supply chain. We are enabling the convergence of the telecom and IT industries, which will completely change how telecom is viewed in the future.
We are already commercially supplying our virtualized Open RAN solutions to Dish Networks, the first large-scale (20% of the population at launch) in the USA, the first Open vRAN 5G Stand Alone end-to-end cloud-native network. Other MNOs including Deutsche Telekom, Orange, Vodafone, Vodafone Idea, TIM and Axiata, have made similar public announcements and are committed to the implementation of open and autonomous networks.
How Open RAN is critical for the success of 5G in India?
The arrival of 5G promises to transform our daily lives, with its superior network performance enabling a wide range of innovative applications across all industrial sectors. However, the rollout of this revolutionary wireless technology isn’t without its challenges, as the world’s MNOs struggle to adapt their business models and operations to meet the needs of multiple new markets.
Faced with this threat to the economic success of 5G, governments and industry have recognized that Open RAN is critical to remove this roadblock. By disaggregating the core elements of the RAN and specifying open, standard interfaces, an Open RAN encourages new market entrants, including those from India, generating disruption with the attendant benefits of innovation and reduced total cost of ownership.
What kind of opportunity does Mavenir see in India for 5G?
With the advent of 5G, opportunities in India have exploded. The Telco Industry in this market has a clear opportunity to transform the way networks are engineered, deployed and operated. We are investing resources in India and in technologies that will help them address emerging opportunities and working towards helping telecom operators in getting their networks 5G-ready by building the internet of the future.
What are your plans for the Indian market?
Mavenir is committed to the Indian market with its continued investments in the development of cutting-edge technologies at R&D centers across India. We have been working with all Indian operators. We’re also manufacturing radios with Jabil in Pune.