Etisalat taps Parallel Wireless for open RAN trials

Parallel Wireless also has open RAN collaborations with Vodafone, Telefonica, and MTN. (Parallel Wireless)

U.S.-based Parallel Wireless is expanding its open RAN push, announcing a new collaboration with Etisalat for trials in its markets across the Middle East, Asia and Africa.

Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, the Etisalat Group services more than 148 million customers in 16 countries.

Etisalat previously announced it was launching an open virtualized RAN initiative using technology from vendors including Altiostar, NEC, and Cisco, among others. The trials with Parallel appear to align with those vRAN efforts.  

Parallel Wireless says it offers the only “All G” open RAN solution, converging 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G on one unified software platform and removing the need to maintain legacy networks dedicated to a single technology.

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The software-based approach will enable Etisalat to deploy systems with virtualized 2G, 3G and 4G technology that’s upgradable to 5G. Parallel said Etisalat will be able to run the different technology generations simultaneously on the same base stations, providing commercial data and voice services to customers in both urban and rural locations.

Amrit Heer, sales director MENA at Parallel Wireless, in a statement said the work with Etisalat will “deliver coverage and capacity without making extensive capital investments associated with legacy network deployments.”

Hatem Bamatraf, CTO of Etisalat International, in a statement said: “The global trials of OpenRAN with Parallel Wireless reiterate Etisalat's commitment to our vision encouraging us to take the lead in OpenRAN by conducting field trials with various leading technology partners to create an innovative ecosystem in all of our markets. This is also the world's first 'ALL G' OpenRAN set to provide efficiency and cost benefits for 4G and 5G in addition to setting a roadmap for the next generation of telecom networks."

In addition to lower costs, Parallel said the open RAN approach will help reduce the complexity of deploying multi-vendor 5G systems.

"Etisalat understands the true potential of greater leverage to their business, in both high-end and low-end markets with a greater buying power by shaping the telecom ecosystem and embracing new network architectures, such as OpenRAN,” continued Heer’s statement.

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This is Parallel’s latest notch for its OpenRAN solution. In November, Parallel announced MTN would deploy more than 5,000 sites across its 21 operations in Africa, using the vendor’s OpenRAN product to deliver 2G, 3G, and 4G services in areas that were previously unconnected. Vodafone in October said it would deploy a macro OpenRAN pilot with Parallel Wireless in Turkey and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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Both of those Vodafone trials were part of a Telecom Infra Project (TIP) OpenRAN initiative to lower deployment and maintenance costs for RAN platforms.

Parallel and other software-focused vendors like Mavenir and Altiostar have been championing open RAN architectures and while major operators like Vodafone and Telefonica have shown support for the technology, efforts are still in the early days.