LIVE FROM MWC21 LOS ANGELES: A majority of analysts backed a move unveiled by Rakuten Mobile during the event to advance the open networking market, though there was at least one dissenting voice who expected little challenge to the current vendor status quo.

Leonard Lee, MD and founder of consultancy Next Curve, branded Rakuten Mobile’s announcement as the most compelling of the event, during a panel discussion of the week’s hottest topics.

The Japanese company’s “RAN as a service” shows the potential market power of non-traditional vendors, Lee asserted. “We have adjacent market players looking at telco transformation…coming in and shaking things up down to the tech level”.

“There is going to be an impact on the vendor ecosystem.”

Emma Mohr-McClune, service director at GlobalData, agreed other new vendors may come forth with similar offerings. “This is the wild west”.

“There is no incumbency, that’s all to be won”.

But CritComm Insights founder and principal analyst Ken Rehbehn was less optimistic, predicting network operators may shun the complexity of open networks.

“These massive organisations win through simplicity”, he stated, noting the “economic constraints” operators currently face makes any further disruption a challenge.

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GSMA Intelligence head Peter Jarich revealed a Twitter poll it conducted ranked a maintenance robot from IBM and Boston Dynamics as the week’s hottest topic.

Mohr-McClune cited a Dish Network partnership with decentralised unlicensed wireless networks company Helium as her top news item from the week.

The deal involves the operator employing Helium’s CBRS-based hotspots, which consumers and businesses use to mine the company’s cryptocurrency.

Rehbehn highlighted a private LTE and 5G network deployment undertaken by the Utah Inland Port Authority, which provides a “living lab” for the technology.

Leonard called for MWC22 events to deliver more substantive discussion of 5G revenue generation, while Mohr-McClune hopes for more focus on sustainability.

Rehbehn wants to see further progress on private network development, specifically on operators’ involvement and moves to diversify beyond mobile broadband.