US-based OpenRAN equipment maker Mavenir says it wants India to consider it as a domestic company rather than a foreign so it can play a larger role in the country’s upcoming 5G networks buildouts.
The Indian government has been lending support to creating (and giving preferential market access to) Indian companies that will focus on the Indian market. However, Mavenir president and chief executive officer Pardeep Kohli said this would result in Indian companies that can’t compete overseas at a global scale.
“You may have a substandard solution in India, which won’t meet the world quality market,” Kohli was quoted as saying by the Economic Times. “The Indian government can invest in creating open radio companies, which can build different variants for different markets.”
Kohli said Mavenir should be seen as any other Indian company because it has been making “huge investments” in India and is driving its research and development from the country alongside global support.
“We are as good Indians as anybody else. We have open technology and it shouldn’t matter where we are headquartered,” he said, adding that the Indian market is important to the company. “Let us play under the same rules. Because to me, it’s actually to India’s disadvantage if we are not seen from that lens.”
Kohli revealed that the company moved intellectual property for its 4G and 5G core to its Indian subsidiary to show commitment to the Indian market.
Mavenir recently partnered with Bharti Airtel to conduct 5G field trials. The OpenRAN vendor is also working with third-ranked telco Vodafone Idea to conduct OpenRAN-based 4G trials across various cities.
“India is part of the QUAD initiative. As part of that general meeting within the US government, we discussed that a good strategy for India would be to deploy OpenRAN only. We are talking to Indian operators and they would like to adopt OpenRAN,” Kohli told the publication.
With Chinese vendors like Huawei and ZTE unlikely to be a part of India’s 5G network rollout, Kohli said that Indian telecom operators will be left with “limited options” and OpenRAN technology offers them more flexibility in the supply chain.
“Currently, telcos buy proprietary solutions which are exported to the Indian market as compared to OpenRAN solutions including the software and hardware which can be built and manufactured in India,” he added.
Mavenir has already started manufacturing OpenRAN-based radios from its contract manufacturing partner Jabil in Pune, Maharashtra. Jabil also makes 4G and 5G equipment for Swedish telecom gear maker Ericsson.
“If Indian telcos pick us for deployment then we would have Indian built radios deployed in India. Similarly, servers are something we are working on and believe that the server technology can be built in India,” he said.
Last year Mavenir raised $500 million from Koch Strategic Platforms to expand its operations globally and bolster its R&D efforts. Kohli said, ”A lot of new money went into actual investment in India. We have expanded our locations. We actually acquired companies, which had a presence in India as well.
He added that despite the COVID situation, Mavenir added 1500 employees in India as part of that investment.
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