NEC announced the establishment of an Open RAN laboratory in India as a complement to its Center of Excellence (CoE) in the U.K.
The Japanese company said that the new facility will accelerate development of NEC’s 5G open ecosystem by pre-integrating partner Open RAN components to form end-to-end commercial-ready solutions according to customer-specific needs.
NEC also said that the solutions will undergo end-to-end “practical validations” on functional/operational performance and quality assurance throughout all layers of the RAN, from network and cloud to service layers.
The new lab in India will also be responsible for post-deployment trouble-shooting, life cycle management and continuous integration (CI) and continuous delivery (CD) of solutions.
Initial partners include Altiostar, GigaTera and MTI, as NEC plans to expand its ecosystem with a broader group of partners to accelerate operators’ commercial adoption of Open RAN.
“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 at 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.”
“As one of the leaders in the Open RAN ecosystem, NEC has shown its capabilities in integrating end-to-end O-RAN solutions. NEC’s CoE provides the market a great way to demonstrate O-RAN, using components from different suppliers that conform with the O-RAN specifications,” said Allen Yen, chairman and CEO of MTI. “MTI is excited to be one of the initial partners of NEC’s CoE lab, and will continue to supply O-RAN compliant radio units to the market.”
Kazuhiko Harasaki, deputy GM for the service provider solutions division at NEC, said that the company will “take leadership in curating pre-validated models and facilitating commercial, multi-vendor Open RAN deployment as a viable alternative 5G network for operators.”
The recently opened CoE in the U.K. is responsible for business and solution development, product development support, project execution and technical support for NEC’s global Open RAN business.
In June, Japanese conglomerate Nippon Telegraph & Telephone (NTT) said it would take a 5% stake in NEC as part of an agreement to foster the development of 5G technology in Japan.
The agreement, estimated at 60 billion yen ($562 million), will make NTT the third-largest shareholder in NEC.
The two companies are expected to work on equipment for 5G core networks. Under the terms of the deal, NEC also will collaborate on NTT’s proposed Innovative Optical and Wireless Network, or IOWN, high-speed broadband infrastructure, according to published reports.
To promote open architectures such as O-RAN and to realize the IOWN initiative, NTT and NEC said they will set up a research and development structure at an early stage of their alliance.
Earlier this year, NEC had inked a deal with Japanese mobile network operator Rakuten Mobile, a subsidiary of Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, to jointly develop the containerized standalone (SA) 5G core network (5GC) to be used in Rakuten Mobile’s fully virtualized cloud native 5G network.