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Network & Technology

Middle East Open RAN Consortium publishes first whitepaper

24 Oct 2022

Abu Dhabi: The Middle East Open Radio Access Network (O-RAN) consortium announced the publication of its first open RAN (ORAN) whitepaper focusing on brownfield deployment opportunities and challenges. Brownfield deployment refers to an upgrade or addition of new solutions to an existing network.

In March this year, seven Middle East operators opened the first regional community lab in collaboration with Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and Intel, following the signing of an O-RAN MoU last year. e& (formerly known as Etisalat Group), stc, Zain Group, Mobily, du from Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), Batelco and Omantel, signed the O-RAN MoU in their commitment to deploy Open RAN across their footprint and enhance supreme network experiences for end-users.The move will accelerate the testing and implementation of O-RAN solutions in their networks to support the early adoption and development of a robust regional ICT ecosystem.

The launch of the first O-RAN whitepaper signals the entry into a new era of operators’ collaboration in the Middle East to accelerate the development of Open Network technologies, which helps in diversifying strategic technology growth in the Gulf and gain an advantage with services catering to the local market requirements with faster time to market/value while focusing on introducing software capabilities that bring technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to the forefront. The implementation of O-RAN solutions supports flexibility and provides more innovation in managing the network for more efficient operations.

In its whitepaper, the consortium elaborated on the detailed elements forming the ‘Open RAN Deployment Challenges and Opportunities for Brownfield Mobile Network Operators’. The operators highlighted the current efforts done by the consortium members, ranging from field trials, lab establishments, vendor interactions and organisations’ engagements to verify and explore the ecosystem and readiness, in addition to navigating through the variable Open RAN use cases.

The Open RAN Consortium confirms the importance to deploy Open RAN across the operators’ footprint, providing an opportunity for traditional as well as new entrants RAN vendors to adopt open interfaces, software, and hardware to build more agile and flexible mobile networks in the 5G and 4G era. It brings the opportunity to new entrants to create value in RAN business through innovation, influencing the telco equipment business to become more competitive to support current requirements of telco and more importantly the future requirements (like 6G), and offering choices to mobile operators to achieve innovative solutions and cost efficiencies in RAN deployments. The consortium is also aligned with the GSMA, which promotes the implementation of Open RAN deployments. 

Mohamed Al Marzooqi, Senior Vice President, Access Network, e& international, said: “We are extremely proud to have reached an important stage of cooperation among operators in the region.The consortium has been working together for over a year to build a common information base in this field and to enhance the presence of such a futuristic technology across our mobile networks.

“We are delighted to witness other telecom operators in the region joining the alliance to position the Middle East as a global leader in developing and deploying such innovative network solutions and benefit from the shared experiences of our community in deploying open network technologies. Operators can potentially reduce the energy consumption in an Open RAN by 20%, further  enhancing e&’s position as a global technology conglomerate that delivers its environment, social, and governance (ESG) commitments across its footprint.”

Etisalat Group has changed its brand identity to e&, effective from 23 February 2022. Its strategy aims to accelerate growth through the creation of a resilient business model representing the Group’s main business pillars. The Telecoms business currently continues to operate led by Etisalat UAE in e&’s home market and by existing subsidiaries for international operations, upholding the Group’s rich telecoms heritage, bolstering the strong telecoms network and maximising value for the Group’s various customer segments.

Ramping up the digital services for individual customers to elevate their digital-first lifestyle, e& life brings next-generation technologies through smart platforms in entertainment, retail and financial technology.

To enable the digital transformation of governments, large-scale enterprises and corporates, e& enterprise focuses on maximising value through its end-to-end solutions in, Cloud, Cybersecurity, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). e& capital allows the Group to focus its efforts on driving new mergers and acquisitions while maximising shareholder value and strengthening global presence.

The whitepaper titled “Open RAN for Brownfield Operators Challenges and Opportunities” can be accessed on https://telecominfraproject.com/wp-content/uploads/Open-RAN-for-Brownfield-Operators-Challenges-and-Opportunities.pdf