India Can Become A Global OpenRAN Leader Due To Its Scale: Facebook


Facebook said that India can offer the much-needed scale to the OpenRAN technology due to the size of the market resulting in lower costs to telecom operators. It said that OpenRAN and disaggregating the “telecom” stack will open up innovation in India and support the make in India program not just for hardware manufacturing but for application and software development.

“So, I’m very optimistic about this. India because of the scale and the size of the market, it can lead to scale and it can lower the costs and become a global leader,” said director of public policy at Facebook, Robert Pepper. He was speaking at the India Mobile Congress 2020 virtual event.

The Indian government can bring policies to support the easier transition to OpenRAN and disaggregated technologies, he suggested, adding that it can be done through helping with development with R&D budgets, innovation centers and incentives for the operators that are deploying openRAN solutions.

India’s telecom sector, in the efforts of enabling policies including more quantum of the spectrum, is set to establish new benchmarks in the next-generation network deployments and service delivery.

OpenRAN as a concept enables hardware and software to be dis-aggregated, unlike conventional radio gears, allowing technology products from different suppliers to co-exist with the various software providers, and reduce costs for telcos. OpenRAN allows more customization of the network architecture and capabilities creating opportunities for new business lines and improving customer experience, analysts said.

Telcos, he said, may need more time and flexibility in terms of the ability to roll out OpenRAN technology since they may find it difficult due to the existence of legacy technologies and legacy vendors that are not yet on board to the open interoperable approach. “These are things that the government can do to help the operators in that transition.”

In India, all three telecom operators are evaluating the adoption of OpenRAN technology. While Vodafone Idea is trialling the technology in a limited manner with vendors like Mavenir, Bharti Airtel and Reliance Jio have started work to develop technologies with third-party vendors for future adoption.

The Sunil Mittal-led telco recently produced its own 4G small cells by collaborating with Altiostar and Sercom. After seeing the success, the company has now diverted its focus on 5G gear, including radio, small cells, routers and massive Mimo using the OpenRAN technology.

The Facebook executive said that the government support in providing incentives for local and global companies can help develop the whole software stack for OpenRAN ecosystem, including testing, implementation, back office and cloud operations.

“…Those are comparative advantages in India, which has some of the world’s best software developers and back office operations,” he added.

Facebook is a part of the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and the Open RAN Policy Coalition and works with global players to advance the maturity of the technology.

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