Interview with Rajeev Rawal: “By 2-3 years we will see around 40% of the network on Open RAN”

Over the past few years, the concept of Open RAN has generated a significant buzz across the telecommunications industry. Owing to various advantages that the technology offers to telcos, it is fast emerging as the go-to solution for operators. In an interview with Telecom Pod, Rajeev Rawal, Country Head – Sales, India at Wind River, 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?

Wind River has been working globally with many Tier 1, and Tier 2 operators and what we have seen is that the outlook for most of them is nearly the same i.e. Reduction in the overall TCO, Vendor flexibility, Faster to market, Best in breed stack and most important new revenue streams that disaggregated architecture and distributed edge makes possible.

What is the biggest benefit of Open RAN and how are Indian Telcos leveraging it to grow their business?

As per me the biggest benefit which it is going to bring to Indian telcos is the cost reduction because of the multiple players and the opportunities to grow revenue beyond the usual Mobile / Data business. Telcos today are working on creating offerings for Manufacturing, Education, Ports, Automotives etc. which was never an arena for telecom.

How big Open RAN will be in India? Is the technology maturing enough for commercial rollout?

Absolutely this is the future, not only restricted to one country or region but of the entire telecom world. As per me, India will see the launch of this technology by one of the key operators in the end quarter of this year and soon followed by other operators in 2023 with expansions in the following years. By 2-3 years we will see around ~40% of the network on ORAN.  A few years back, it was about who takes the first step and has the courage to test the waters by investing. The testing is already been done and globally many players have already deployed and are deploying ORAN. I think I also answered your second question” Is it mature enough”. It is deployed and has been operational for the last 2-2.5 years and hence mature enough for commercial deployments in India, and needless to add more deployments will bring more learnings and refinement in the architectures.

How important is Open RAN for the acceleration of 5G growth in India?

Why 5G is exciting is because it brings something newer than the past technologies i.e., immense potential for new revenue streams for the operators. If you talk to any of the operators, no one is only just talking about the usual Radio deployments, faster speeds and higher capacity. More focus is been given to the new use cases to monetize the network investment. These use cases are more possible when you allow disaggregation in the Ecosystem. Why? Because the offerings will be customized not “One fits all” and hence you require more flexible, automated and Open Technology than a one monolithic network deployment. Operators shall move towards ORAN, which because of multiple players, not only allows operators to negotiate better and reduce the TCO but also because of the Openness and flexibility enables operators to create specific offerings for the market and in turn more revenue.

How important is Open RAN for ‘Make in India’ 5G solutions?

It has encouraged many Indian entities/start-ups to enter the network equipment market which has been very much ruled by only 2-3 global players at the moment. I definitely see a lot of innovations also coming into play as these new entrants are and will be much more open to the new and out-of-box ideas and they will be working hand in hand with Operators to create more bespoke offerings. This is overall a great step by the Indian Govt which will build many more job opportunities and will help in growing the overall economy of the country

What are your plans for the Indian market?

Wind River has long had a local presence in India and sees great opportunity in the telecommunications market, particularly with the rising interest in virtual and Open RAN. We are continuing to invest in growing our presence to address this opportunity.