Open RAN MoU; Top Telcos partner to enhance network experience

By Salma C, Intern Reporter
  • Follow author on
Opan RAN
Representational Image

Bahrain’s Batelco and Omantel, a telecom group in Oman, recently signed the Open Radio Access Network (Open RAN) MoU with e& (formerly known as Etisalat Group), stc, Zain Group, Mobily, and du from Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), to open RANs across their footprint and enhance the ultimate network experience for end-users.

Flexible and standard-based solutions such as Open RAN provide a compelling opportunity for operators to become more efficient to meet the growing demand for higher bandwidth, lower latency, and advanced connectivity.

Last year, Middle East operators opened the first local community lab in collaboration with Telecom Infra Project (TIP) and Intel under the Open RAN MoU. The move will accelerate the implementation of Open RAN solutions on existing telecom networks to support the early adoption and development of a strong local ICT ecosystem.

The Middle East Lab will provide a platform for parties to jointly deploy open and disaggregated technologies to their networks to optimize the online experiences of businesses and customers. The Lab will provide shared facilities and access to the most latest Intel technologies for members and vendors, and the impetus for Open RAN deployment.

By sharing industry knowledge to deploy and prioritize their technical needs, TIP partners contribute to the creation of centralized technology roadmaps that provide direction for the development of new network infrastructure products and solutions. Operators can utilize the tip testing and evaluation process to quickly and easily evaluate products and solutions that make the best contribution to the transformation of their networks.

Commenting on the agreement, Mr. Mohamed Al Marzooqi, Vice President, Technology Synergies, e& stated that “More than ever, our customers rely on high-quality connectivity for their daily requirements. The need for such smart connectivity will only increase in the future. I’m delighted to witness more operators from our region partnering with us in our efforts to position the Middle East as a global leader in developing and deploying such innovative network solutions.”

“e& is committed to supporting technology and service innovation within the markets where we operate, through our participation in TIP and our partnership with Intel. We strongly believe open technologies present the right prospects to achieve this while helping enhance the flexibility and efficiency of our networks,” Mr. Al Marzooqi added.

Welcoming Batelco and OmanTel, Zain Group’s Chief Technology Officer, Mr. Nawaf Al Gharabally remarked that “Through broad regional alignment on OpenRAN and standardization over Intel technologies, we will provide a clear demand signal to the industry that reflects the needs of our respective markets and customers.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Rashid Mohamed, General Manager Networks, Batelco commented that “This alignment of operators on Open RAN is a milestone for the telecommunications ecosystem in the Middle East. It will create a more competitive and robust supply chain, leading to faster 5G deployment, network efficiencies, opportunities for new technology vendors, and unlock advanced services for customers.”

Mr. Bernhard Merwe, CTO, Omantel, stated that “Omantel is excited to be joining this ground-breaking MoU. This is an initiative that will help us deliver on our mission to provide the highest quality connectivity to our customers while also benefiting from the shared experiences of our community in deploying open network technologies.”

stc Infrastructure Design General Manager, Mr. Hisham Alabdaly, said that “By partnering with TIP, Intel, and the operator community in the Middle East, we are helping pioneer a new and innovative approach to developing the solutions that align with our strategic goals and best support the present and future needs of our customers.”

“In doing so, we are also supporting the growth of our local ICT sectors because open network technologies like OpenRAN provide a trusted avenue for new entrants in both the hardware and software space to work with service providers,” Mr. Alabdaly added.

Mr. Saleem Al Balooshi, Chief Technology Officer at du stated that “We are excited to take the next step in accelerating the pace of innovation and promote the development of an open technology that will help to enhance the flexibility, efficiency and security of our networks.”

Mr. Mohammed Al Atawi, VP Technology Governance, Mobily remarked that “Mobily is already committed to making our vendors active partners in our business operations, and the move towards open network technologies is the next logical step in that journey.”

Referring to the partnerships among regional mobile operators, Ms. Caroline Chan, VP, Network and Edge Group & TIP Board Member, Intel stated that “This is a great example of how industry collaboration can accelerate the shift toward a software-defined infrastructure at the network edge. A virtualized, Open RAN is an area of tremendous innovation, which can be further propelled by leveraging Intel’s FlexRAN reference architecture with optimized software and hardware components. The lab opens new possibilities to innovate 5G services that can accelerate the digital transformation in the Middle East.”

Mr. Vish Mathur, Head of Engagement Telecom Infra Project highlighted the shared responsibility of each telco operator in the successful deployment of Open RAN.

Mr. Mathur further added that “While specific use cases may differ depending on the region, the need for these technologies is universal. TIP and Intel play a key role in this context, bringing together stakeholders from across the world, such as the MoU signatories, to accelerate the development of a critical mass of open and disaggregated network solutions in response to operators’ needs.”

Related: Dell extends Ooredoo Qatar tie-up to develop next-gen telecom infrastructure