Reliance Jio likely to adopt Open RAN for its own 5G

Jio Open RAN
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Reliance Jio is expected to adopt Open RAN technologies along with Cloud-RAN architecture for its own 5G technology, which will allow it to export its expertise to other global markets that have not yet started to upgrade to 5G, Bernstein said in its latest note.

The move to adopt Open RAN will also help Jio to avoid paying expensive premiums to existing equipment providers. Notably, Jio has already replaced technologies like VoLTE by Nokia with its own technology and has been using its own technologies and solutions for enterprise services.

“However, there still will be external dependence, as most of the semiconductors used to power the Radio access networks are likely to be foreign developed and produced,” Bernstein said.

There has been a global push to adopt Open RAN architecture especially after the US crackdown on Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei, which would result in a duopoly of Ericsson and Nokia in the 5G equipment space

However, there could be an opportunity for Samsung, NEC and Fujitsu to expand to the global stage, having already established footprints in their respective local markets.

“More likely it [Jio] will be the catalyst that might allow Open RAN architecture to gain a stronger foothold into existing operator networks,” Bernstein said.

Jio may also leverage TIP (the Telecoms Infrastructure Project supported by Facebook) which enables progressive virtualization of the network. It, however, is not a member of TIP, but is listed as a member of Open RAN Policy coalition.

Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani during the recent AGM said that “Jio has designed and developed a complete 5G solution from scratch“.

Ambani said, Jio’s “ Made-in-India 5G solution” will be ready for trials as soon as the 5G spectrum is available in the country, and can be ready for field deployment next year. “And, because of Jio’s converged, all-IP network architecture… we can easily upgrade our 4G network to 5G,” he said.

Jio is currently awaiting 5G trial spectrum from India’s Department of Telecommunications (DoT).

Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), the parent of Jio, had acquired Radisys, which has allowed Jio’s entry as the telecom gear vendor, especially in the 5G space.

“We think it is possible Jio, quite likely in conjunction with other local IT players, has managed to build its own 5G software stack and is likely embracing Open RAN techniques or possibly even Cloud-RAN as an architecture,” Bernstein said in a note.

Indian IT services have capabilities in 5G having worked with global telcos while telecom vertical is 15-40% of their overall revenues. Players like Tech Mahindra, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Wipro are some prominent Indian IT services players that have been helping global telecom operators.

India’s Tech Mahindra, for instance, has a stake in Altiostar which is helping Rakuten to deploy its 5G network in Japan. Telecom is the largest vertical for Tech Mahindra contributing to around 42% of revenue in FY20.

“Tech Mahindra is well poised to benefit from early participation of 5G spend areas in network modernization, network design & roll out. Tech Mahindra has 50 global telco operator/OEMs as its customers. The company has delivered key telecom engagements in the 5G space,” Bernstein said.

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