Indian mobile operator Bharti Airtel has tied a US company Mavenir to deploy Open RAN for 5G rollout in rural areas. As part of the deal, the telco will leverage the latter’s 4G and 5G O-RAN technology at 2,500 cell sites in rural parts of the country. The plan is to extend the technology to 10,000 sites later.
It’s not an isolated partnership either. The two have already been cooperating for O-RAN developments. In mid-2022, the telco conducted India’s first O-RAN-based live 5G network validation with Mavenir in Chandigarh and Mohali. The telco used a 3.5 GHz spectrum allocated to the operator by DoT. Over 1 Gbps speeds were validated in NonStandalone (NSA) architecture.
A milestone for Open RAN ecosystem in India
Upon it, Airtel CTO Randeep Sekhon said, “This is a major milestone for the Open RAN ecosystem in India, and yet another validation of the growing readiness of 5G networks based on open architecture. Airtel is delighted to spearhead the innovation efforts of the O-RAN Alliance in India. We look forward to deepening our technology partnership with Mavenir and collaborating to accelerate the deployment of these radio access networks.”
Bharti Airtel has already deployed its 5G services in more than 3,000 towns and cities across India.
In 2022, Mavenir said that it was holding talks to supply 5G infra to Indian carriers including Vodafone Idea. The U.S. firm said it could provide the made-in-India 4G and 5G O-RAN radios.
Airtel and Mavenir to deploy 5G Open RAN in India
Mavenir expected the work of O-RAN in India, for brownfield O-RAN deployments. The US firm had previously set up its manufacturing unit in Pune to produce 2G, 4G, and 5G O-RAN for its OpenBeam portfolio, suited for Indian and international frequency bands. The company has been adding funds in recent years to help expand its business scenarios.
“This new capital will allow us to accelerate our capabilities in automation, sustainability, and use of AI as we enable our customers to efficiently deploy and operate O-RAN-based end-to-end cloud-native networks. Our unique strategy incorporates best practices from the hyperscale, cloud, and IT industries, to transform how the world connects and builds the future of networks,” Pardeep Kohli, president, and CEO of Mavenir, said.