Etisalat ramps up open RAN with Parallel Wireless

Parallel Wireless notched up another telco customer with the announcement that UAE-based Etisalat plans to trial its open RAN (radio access network) technology across the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Open RAN is a hot topic in the industry right now, as operators seek to unshackle themselves from traditional vendor arrangements. Etisalat has already dipped its toes into this area, only recently announcing plans to build an open RAN network across the United Arab Emirates that uses virtualization products developed by Altiostar, Cisco and NEC, among other suppliers. (See Etisalat to Build Open RAN 'Across UAE' and NEC, Altiostar Team Up on 4G/5G Open vRAN Products.)

Parallel Wireless was not specifically mentioned at the time, but the latest release appears to indicate that it will support Etisalat's open RAN objectives across its entire footprint. The US company claims to have the only open RAN solution that supports 5G, 4G, 3G and 2G, and Etisalat seems to be attracted by its pledge to "eliminate the need to maintain siloed legacy networks" and "modernize legacy networks for cost reduction, and reduce the complexity of rolling out multi-vendor 5G systems."

Parallel Wireless has certainly been on a roll of late, recently expanding its partnership with Robin.io to help operators automate network functionality. (See Parallel Wireless extends partnership with Robin.io to automate next gen networks.)

Although an increasingly popular topic, open RAN technology is still immature and way behind mainstream technology on performance. It's also unlikely to be a weapon to fight China in the 5G World War. Nevertheless, an increasing number of telcos are jumping enthusiastically onto the open RAN bandwagon as they expand 5G coverage. (See Open RAN Won't Stop China, Dotards and Orange Belgium CEO: Open RAN No Substitute for Huawei.)

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— Anne Morris, Contributing Editor, Light Reading

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