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5G Network to be Based on Open Source Platforms: Qualcomm India

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As 5G proliferation starts to gain momentum in India, Rajen Vagadia, VP and President Qualcomm India & SAARC, believes that India’s 5G infra will predominantly be based on open-source tech platforms in three years, according to a BusinessLine report.

Speaking to BusinessLine, Vagadia said that the proliferation of 5G tech in India is inevitable, with O-RAN technology making an especially pertinent business case in this country.

O-RAN are new industry standards for the Radio Access Network supplier ecosystem that enables new vendors to participate in the network solutions space, which until now was dominated by a handful of players including Ericsson and Nokia. With the hardware and software technologies for this becoming standardised and open source, many new entrants from India have entered the space to develop products that cater to some part of the whole operator network.

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Indigenous O-RAN

Vagadia said that in the current geopolitical paradigm, with global tensions against China, indigenous O-RAN solutions are poised to establish a firm position in the global markets.

“The scalability, low capital expenditure, and flexibility provided by an open-source network, make a convincing business case for telcos to adopt O-RAN into their network solutions,” Vagadia told Business Line.

According to him, the flexibility of O-RAN will enable cash strapped Indian telcos to gradually roll out 5G network solutions pan India. Vagadia believes that despite financial pressures, operators will be compelled to adopt 5G network solutions merely to provide basic needs of the customers that are substantially increasing their data usage over time. “Merits of 5G go far beyond the myriad of new use cases enabled by the 5G technology. If operators wish to provide similar speeds to customers on the 14 GB to 25 GB journey, they will need 5G,” said Vagadia

Vagadia, predicts the pan India network to be an amalgamation of legacy 4G, open-sourced 5G and 5G solutions. “Right now, operators are juggling a bunch of things at the same time, if O-RAN had come sometime in the future, a complete rollout on open-sourced tech would be more feasible, right now O-RAN is in the testing phase, but the low capex and flexibility of O-RAN tech makes me believe that a significant chunk of the network will be based on it,” said Vagadia.

Vagadia also sees O-RAN as the opportunity for Indian companies to create core telecom infrastructure for the global markets, especially when the alternatives to supply these core components are Taiwan and China, which are losing favour geopolitically. “Companies like STL and HFCL have been one of the biggest players globally, in terms of supplying optical fibers. They have customers globally with operators and the aim of Qualcomm is to take its Indian partners abroad,” said Vagadia.

Regarding India’s homegrown standard 5Gi, Vagadia said that in order for this homegrown standard to take off, it needs global standardisation. “Without global standardisation, there will be issues with interoperability, where the device cannot be used outside the Indian network. In this globalised world standardisation and interoperability are the key to the success of a technology. Otherwise, you have another TDS CDMA or FOMA story, where technologies did not go anywhere due to the lack of standardisation,” Vagadia said.

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