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open RAN

US tech helps power up Thailand's first smart city

In a broad collaboration, involving state-owned operator National Telecom Public Company Limited (NT), Cisco Systems Thailand and Mavenir, Ban Chang becomes Thailand's first "fully functioning" 5G-based smart city.

Mavenir helpfully provided details (a cursory Internet search to see if any of the other players involved had an angle here came up zero).

The smart city apparently leverages Mavenir's cloud-native, open architecture-based private network solution deployed by TOT (Telephone Organization of Thailand). TOT, after a recent merger with Cat Telecom, is now NT, which coordinated with both Mavenir and Cisco on the smart city project in Ban Chang. Cisco provides switching hardware and application services to enable the "smart" components of the 5G solution.

Another player in the smart city mix is Macedonia-based 5GCT, a private network specialist capable of delivering, in the words of Mavenir, "end-to-end 5G smart cities."

Mavenir added that the smart city runs on mmWave radios and a 5G core using open APIs "in-sync with cloud-native solutions supporting private on-premise applications." The set-up, said the supplier, enables "smart city concepts," such as real-time diagnostics of traffic, public safety and digital signage.

Ban Chang is connected to a motorway linking Thailand's two largest cities: Pattaya and Bangkok. It's also in close proximity to U-Tapao International Airport and Map Ta Phut Industrial Zone, which, according to Mavenir's account, makes it the "perfect city" to take advantage of various 5G uses, including industrial robots, factory automation, remote telemedicine, aviation, logistics and agriculture.

Part of Asia's open RAN surge

Ban Chang, it seems, is part of a much bigger (and expanding) open RAN picture in Asia. The latest open RAN market-size figures from Dell'Oro Group, a market research firm, shows that hardware and software revenues associated with the nascent tech grew fivefold, year-on-year, in Q1 2021.

"The operators in the APAC region are largely behind the surge, underpinned by a fairly synchronized migration from proprietary RAN towards open RAN in Japan," said Stefan Pongratz, Dell'Oro Group analyst, in a blog. "In addition to Rakuten, which now has some 50,000 radios up and running, other Japanese operators are increasingly optimistic about O-RAN and the role open interfaces will play with more advanced radio deployments."


Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on Light Reading.


Moreover, as Thailand's 5G smart city project shows, there are opportunities for non-traditional vendors, said Pongratz – not only Mavenir, but also Airspan, Fujitsu and NEC – to make headway in the RAN space through O-RAN compliant radios and software, particularly in higher frequencies.

"Predicated on the assumption that the shift towards wider bandwidths will be a catalyst for 5G SA, the asynchronous availability of the upper mid-band spectrum offers a window of opportunity for new entrants," he said.

"In other words, even if the massive MIMO market is relatively mature and highly concentrated, it is not too late for suppliers with weaker RAN shares to use O-RAN combined with SA to enter this segment."

— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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