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Airtel, Tatas collaborate to implement Open-RAN-based 5G Technology

IBEF:  June 22, 2021

Bharti Airtel and Tata Group announced their collaboration to implement Open-RAN-based 5G radio and core solutions in India.

As per the analysts, due to the domestic manufacturing and use of OpenRAN technology, the collaboration would enable the telco to decrease the cost of 5G implementation.

Bharti Airtel said that it plans to pilot and deploy this homegrown solution built as part of its 5G rollout projects in India and begin the pilot in January 2022.

Jio has also established its own end-to-end telecom stack including radios and core technologies, which it is presently piloting in Mumbai and expects to commercially implement when 5G spectrum is offered commercially.

Bharti Airtel said that Tata Group has built NSA/SA core technology and a ‘state of the art’ O-RAN based radio to integrate a totally domestic telecom stack, leveraging the Group own competencies via Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). This is expected to be available for commercial development by January 2022.

Tata Group is also collaborating with start-ups and domestic firms for the R&D and domestic manufacturing in future.

Mr. Gopal Vittal, MD & CEO (India and South Asia) Bharti Airtel said, “We are thrilled to collaborate with the Tata Group to create a global hub for India in the area of 5G and allied technologies. With its world-class technology capabilities and talent pool, the country is well placed to develop cutting edge application and solutions for the world.”

Mr. Vittal said that the collaboration would offer a major boost to India forming an innovation and manufacturing destination.

Mr. N Ganapathy Subramaniam, the Tata Group/ TCS said, “As a Group, we are enthusiastic about the prospect presented by 5G and adjacent opportunities.”

OpenRAN as a model helps hardware and software to be dis-grouped, enabling technology products from various suppliers to co-exist with the other software providers. With this, firms could have the hardware such as radio made from contract producers and combine it with the software based on OpenRAN.

In 2020, Bharti Airtel manufactured its own 4G small cells by partnering with Altiostar and Sercom employing the same approach. After noticing the success, the firm now switched its focus on just 5G gear, including radio, massive Mimo, small cells and routers.

 

Jio and Airtel are observing OpenRAN as a feasible procedure to remove network-related costs and create more customisations as they modernize their networks to 5G technology.

Mr. Ashwinder Sethi, Principal at Management Consultancy Analysys Mason, said, “Airtel‘s strategic collaboration with Tata could enable it to reduce its 5G implementation cost and thus improve the 5G rollout business case. The collaboration also bodes well with the government’s Make-in-India initiative.”

Mr. Sethi added that the O-RAN collaboration and thus the 5G implementation cost efficiencies and more efficient as well as adaptable networks lets Airtel to compete with Jio which has also been following an in-house 5G solution through organic and in-organic methods.

ET previously stated that Airtel was in discussions with domestic and multinational vendors to indigenously manufacture 5G gear and other wireline and wireless networking products.

In line with make in India initiative, Bharti Enterprises Ltd. had recently formed a joint venture (JV) with Dixon to produce networking and telecom products.

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) is creating a global system integration expertise to strengthen the 5G offering besides facilitating support to both 3GPP and O-RAN standards.

Airtel said in a statement, the 5G solutions, when commercially demonstrated in Airtel’s distinct and brownfield network, would open export prospects for India.

Disclaimer: This information has been collected through secondary research and IBEF is not responsible for any errors in the same.