Etisalat signed an MoU with Rakuten Communications Platform for cloud-native, Open RAN support

Etisalat, following a joint announcement with Rakuten Communications Platform to develop a reference design for cloud-native, Open RAN networks, is furthering its commitment to disaggregation of the radio access network through a production trial with Open RAN specialist Parallel Wireless.

Etisalat is based in Abu Dhabi and provides telecom services to some 154 million subscribers in 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa. The work with Parallel Wireless is focused on Etisalat’s operation in Afghanistan which is going through a strong uptick in mobile broadband penetration–from 1% in 2013 to 22% in 2019, according to figures provided by Parallel Wireless.

In Afghanistan, Parallel and Etisalat, working with Intel and Supermicro, is running a production trial of Open RAN for 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G, effectively replacing multiple single-purpose legacy systems with cloud-based RAN functionality. Intel is providing its 3rd generation Xeon scalable processor, which comes in SKUs optimized for telco networks, running in Supermicro servers.

Parallel Wireless said virtualized baseband units will support multiple remote radio units “on-site in multi-carrier 1-sector, 3-sector, or 6-sector configurations to achieve optimal resource pooling for TCO savings.”

Etisalat’s International CTO Hatem Bamatraf connected the cost effectiveness of Open RAN with the ability to responsively address customers’ needs. “Being able to use an Open RAN system will help us not only extend our initial investment, but also bring new services much faster,” he said in a statement.

Parallel’s Amrit Heer, director of sales, reiterated the role of Open RAN in rapid service delivery. He said the work with Etisalat will “enable new services to be deployed quickly, seamlessly, and more reliably.”


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