Open RAN vendor Parallel Wireless laid off an undisclosed number of its employees, but several analysts told Mobile World Live (MWL) they didn’t think the lay-offs were a sign of larger problems with the development of the network approach.

Light Reading reported Parallel Wireless laid off up to half of its employees. In 2021, FierceWireless stated the company had 700 employees and planned to double the number this year.

Parallel Wireless chair, CEO and co-founder Steve Papa told MWL he had no comment on the number of staff cut,  “but I can say we are making adjustments to right size given the realities of global economic conditions, Covid supply chain constrained world, and the pace of adoption of open RAN”.

A number of employees posted the news on LinkedIn: Eugina Jordan, former EVP of marketing wrote “my heart goes out to all my colleagues across the globe that have been impacted by a mass lay-off at Parallel Wireless, including yes, myself”.

While Papa is keeping his cards close to his chest for now, the company may be retaining the resources needed on the technical and operations side, while pulling its marketing efforts.

Parallel Wireless was founded in 2012 and spent the last few years helping mobile operators build architecture for open RAN, counting a number of big names including Vodafone Group, Axiata Group and MTN as customers.

The goal of open RAN includes using software, cloud and open interfaces to allow mobile operators such as Dish Wireless and Rakuten Mobile to pick and choose the wireless components they want instead of relying on a single locked-in vendor such as Ericsson or Nokia.

Analyst reaction
AvidThink founder and principal Roy Chua told MWL he didn’t think the Parallel Wireless lay-offs were a sign of serious trouble for the approach because “the industry was overly bullish on open RAN, which is getting traction but it’s not as fast as the industry was geared up for”.

“With recessionary pressures, many companies, independent of open RAN, are taking precautionary measures and cutting costs to ride out the potential downturn.”

Futuriom founder and principal analyst Scott Raynovich told MWL the open RAN hype-to-delivery ratio was still skewed too high toward the hype: “We need more delivery.”

GSMA Intelligence head Peter Jarich suggested it would be a “mistake” to think Parallel Wireless’ cuts were an overtly negative sign for the open RAN industry. “The key is why have they done this?”

Research released yesterday (28 June) by US manufacturing services company Jabil stated there was growing traction around open RAN, with 57 per cent of the 193 companies surveyed expecting the approach to be ready for widespread deployment in the next two years.