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Parallel Wireless pops up in Bulgaria with open RAN trialParallel Wireless pops up in Bulgaria with open RAN trial

Open RAN proponent Parallel Wireless to trial 2G, 4G, and 5G open RAN with United Group's Vivacom.

Anne Morris

June 14, 2023

3 Min Read
Parallel Wireless pops up in Bulgaria with open RAN trial
The Bulgarian trial is the latest in a series of announcements by Parallel Wireless.(Source: Finn Hackshaw on Unsplash)

Although it's still tiny steps, Parallel Wireless remains bent on moving beyond layoffs last year with a series of marketing and customer announcements that it hopes will show it is still very much in the game.

On Wednesday, for instance, the open RAN proponent announced it has reached an agreement with Netherlands-based United Group to trial open RAN technology in Bulgaria, using the network of mobile operator Vivacom.

According to Parallel Wireless, the trial in Bulgaria will explore the use of open RAN technology on 2G, 4G, and 5G networks and compare its performance with traditional RANs. Nikolay Andreev, CEO of Vivacom, said the operator hopes the trial "will be the first step in delivering ORAN technology to Bulgaria."

Although it doesn't appear to be a major project, the Bulgarian trial adds to recent Parallel Wireless announcements such as a pilot of autonomous 5G standalone core sites in Israel together with Cellcom and a collaboration with Vodafone and Juniper Networks on a multi-vendor open RAN initiative in Turkey.

Some of Parallel's top management also headed to Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona in February, while CEO Steve Papa has continued to insist that the company is sufficiently funded to reach its goals. In February, Papa told Light Reading that Parallel employs around 600 people and said the "scale of our business is consistent with where it was 18 months ago. There's not a big change."

Waiting for open RAN

At the same time, Parallel continues to operate in a market that has yet to settle down. Although progress has certainly been made, Masaki Taniguchi, head of Fujitsu's mobile system business unit, recently said the new open RAN architecture still struggles to compete against legacy gear from big vendors, for instance.

It's not clear whether or not United Group has undertaken any other open RAN trials to date, although it would appear not. Notably, it has been working with Nokia, which in 2021 said it is to supply cloud-native core network products to the group's operations in Bulgaria, Croatia and Slovenia to support 3G, 4G and eventually 5G services. The Finnish vendor is also deploying a fiber network and in-home mesh Wi-Fi solution across the eight countries where United Group operates.

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United Group is a highly acquisitive group that has been steadily expanding ownership of telecoms, broadband and TV operators in Southeast Europe. It is now active in eight countries across the region and in addition to Vivacom in Bulgaria operates telecoms services under SBB in Serbia and Telemach in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, and Slovenia.

Update: The story has been changed since it was published to indicate that the agreement between Parallel Wireless and United Group was announced on Wednesday (June 14), not Thursday (June 15).

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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About the Author(s)

Anne Morris

Contributing Editor, Light Reading

Anne Morris is a freelance journalist, editor and translator. She has been working in the telecommunications sector since 1996, when she joined the London-based team of Communications Week International as copy editor. Over the years she held the editor position at Total Telecom Online and Total Tele-com Magazine, eventually leaving to go freelance in 2010. Now living in France, she writes for a number of titles and also provides research work for analyst companies.

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