Wednesday, 08 April 2020

OpenRAN picking up steam in LatAm

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Wednesday 04 March 20

The increasingly popular technology is getting a widescale deployment in Peru as part of a joint venture between Parallel Wireless and new kid on the block, Internet para Todos (IpT)

IpT announced on Monday that they had deployed hundreds of 4G OpenRAN sites throughout Peru working with Parallel Wireless.   OpenRAN has many attractive advantages for operators, allowing them to choose from a wider range of equipment at more competitive prices, as well as facilitating virtualisation. While it is still a maturing technology…

IpT announced on Monday that they had deployed hundreds of 4G OpenRAN sites throughout Peru working with Parallel Wireless.
 
OpenRAN has many attractive advantages for operators, allowing them to choose from a wider range of equipment at more competitive prices, as well as facilitating virtualisation. While it is still a maturing technology, companies like Parallel Wireless, Mavenir, Cisco, and NEC are trying to pioneer its development around the world. 
 
But it seems that Parallel Wireless has something of an early lead, raising their profile not only in South America with IpT, but also in Africa with Vodafone and MTN, and the Middle East with Etisalat.
 
Parallel Wireless’ OpenRAN Controller tech being deployed automatically self-optimises with the various RANs in IpT’s network, leaving IpT free to partner with local companies to make rural coverage cheaper. 
 
“The end goal is to help global MNOs build and release software at high velocity, without making extensive capital investments or incurring ongoing maintenance costs associated with legacy network deployments,” explained Parallel Wireless CEO Steve Papa.
 
For new telco IpT, OpenRAN may be the key to unlocking many of the more remote regions in South America. Formed around a year ago by Facebook, Telefonica, IDB Invest, and CAF, the company’s stated goal is to help connect a continent that has been notoriously difficult for operators to monetise successfully, due to expensive deployments, varied geography, and low rural population density.  
 
For Telefonica, unlocking these regions will create a wealth of new connectivity customers, which Facebook presumably hopes will mean more users for its platform.
 
The ongoing success of IpT in Peru in the past year has seen it recently reach out for another MNO partner alongside Telefonica. 
 
“We hope to have a second MNO in 2020,” said IpT’s CTO Renan Ruiz at the end of last year. “Our MNO partners can expand coverage and grow customers without spending capex.” 
 
OpenRAN is still far from challenging the dominance of the three leading RAN vendors – Huawei, Ericsson, and Nokia – but with each additional success the new technology seems to become more and more attractive. Sooner or later, these giants will have to take notice.
 
 
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