As open RAN moves toward tipping point, how will the vendor dynamics shake out?
LOS ANGELES–Major, multi-national operators, as well as numerous others in the telecoms business, have thrown their lots in with the open RAN movement. The idea is to use commoditized hardware to foster innovation and competition in the RAN vendor space and, simultaneously, flip the network economics model in tandem with the massive scale needed to deliver on 5G.
But when you disaggregate a radio site based on open interfaces and specifications developed by groups like the O-RAN Alliance, you create a new kind of operating model. Say your Verizon and something goes wrong in a Nokia market–it’s pretty clear who you call to fix that. When you swap out that stack for a multi-vendor site broken apart and glued back together by software, that solution becomes a little less clear.
With deals in place with major global operators, Altiostar, Mavneir and Parallel Wireless are among the leading open RAN vendors. But, for its part, Parallel doesn’t see those other two as its main competition; rather, according to Eugina Jordan, vice president of marketing, the company competes primarily against Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia.
In an interview at Mobile World Congress Los Angeles, Jordan said that Parallel operates with a startup mentality and has scrapped to win the business it has.
“Parallel Wireless, we are an underdog that’s becoming a unicorn,” Jordan told RCR Wireless News. “We don’t want to go and just sell the company. We want to build a sustainable business. What are you guys going to be when you grow up? We’re going to be the next Nokia or Huawei.”
In October, Vodafone tapped Parallel’s open RAN product for deployment in Turkey and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of a larger production trial under the auspices of the Telecom Infra Project. The company has also carved out a nice serving rural and remote locations such as the work it’s doing with Alaskan operator OptimERA.
“We make everything cloud-native so brownfield and greenfield becomes one unified RAN architecture,” Jordan said. To the rural point,” When we were no one, that’s who we could get. They gave us a chance in rural [markets and]five years later we’ve deployed, we’ve proven. Now guess who they’re giving the big projects to? They’re giving us whole countries. Our goal as a company is to make 5G more accessible for everyone. And it’s from big cities to small villages. Once you provide connectivity and you make healthcare or education more accessible…the economy improves.”