Telecom Infra Project (TIP) leaders addressed concerns network disaggregation will result in systems integrators establishing a monopoly which undermines the goals of open RAN initiatives, while discussing moves to employ the approach to disrupt other wireless technologies.
At a briefing in London, TIP executive director Kristian Toivo (pictured) told Mobile World Live it is logical to question if system integrators could take a dominant position in the open RAN market, given the need to combine disaggregated elements back into a cohesive system.
But when it comes to the potential for new monopolies to emerge, “of course my answer is no”.
Toivo explained TIP and its community are discussing which companies are best-suited to aggregating components from multiple vendors into a network. Operators have the option to handle integration work themselves, he said citing Vodafone Group as an example, or to rely solely on specialist companies.
Systems integrators are skilled in IT, cloud, security and software management, but Toivo noted there are “many other things that require specific competence” when building a RAN, “so there’s an ecosystem” of companies involved.
Toivo tipped open RAN to mature into a market with best-of-breed approaches which enable different ways of solving integration challenges “without necessarily just creating a monopoly, because it depends on the grade of what you want to do yourself and how the market evolves to bring in those different alternatives”.
The executives faced questions over TIP’s ability to remain independent following a recent invitation by US government organisation NTIA to help steer the allocation of a $1.5 billion pot the nation hopes will position it as an open RAN leader.
Toivo argued there could be broad benefits around “innovation and diversity in the supply chain” if the US funds are “invested right”.
TIP held its event as it revealed a deal with Pakistan fibre operator Multinet to employ its open optical and packet transport framework and open Wi-Fi technology.
The organisation’s chief engineer Dave Hutton explained open Wi-Fi follows the same mission as TIP’s RAN work, seeking to disaggregate hardware and software while offering operators greater choice.