No sooner has Japanese tech vendor NEC unveiled an OpenRAN centre of excellence in the UK than it announces one in India too.
NEC has found itself at the forefront of OpenRAN development, thanks largely to is intimacy with disruptive Japanese operator Rakuten. That, in turn, has brought it to the attention of countries that a really keen to expand their choice of telecoms vendors, having ruled a couple of them out by banning Huawei and ZTE.
So it comes as not great surprise to see India showing an active interest in OpenRAN, considering how fraught relations have become with its giant neighbour this year. India has yet to announce a formal position on Chinese vendors in its 5G networks, but seems to be heading towards at least some kinds of restrictions.
Of all global telecoms vendors NEC seems to be benefitting the most from the Chinese vendor restrictions, thanks largely to its Open RAN reputation. The opening of a new OpenRAN lab/centre of excellence in India appears consistent with the above narrative and seems to indicate an expanded role for NEC in the building of India’s mobile networks.
“We are confident that our firm partnerships with the industry’s best talents will enable us to advance the development of cutting-edge carrier grade ecosystems at full throttle,” said Kazuhiko Harasaki, Deputy GM, Service Provider Solutions Division, NEC Corporation. “NEC will take leadership in curating pre-validated models and facilitating commercial, multi-vendor Open RAN deployment as a viable alternative 5G network for operators.”
Unsurprisingly Altiostar, of which Rakuten is an owner, is also involved. ”Altiostar is excited to work with NEC on the CoE lab to promote and demonstrate the significance of Open RAN as operators transition their networks to 5G,” said Pierre Kahhale, VP of Field Operations, Altiostar. “We have a strong and growing relationship with NEC, dating to our collaboration on the first cloud-native network at scale in Japan, and continuing with current trials and operator deployment plans across the globe.”
That’s about it for now. Light Reading reports a focus will be verifying an OpenRAN ecosystem consisting of NEC, its partners and its OSS subsidiary NetCracker. An OpenRAN ecosystem run by a small, select group of companies would appear to defeat the whole point of it, but what do we know?